Illustrator Tip #17: 4 Methods of Drawing Tables in Illustrator

illustrator table

Tables are often used when you are designing brochures or company profiles. However, drawing a table can be quite tedious in Illustrator as there is no proper tool to draw tables. I will illustrate some workarounds to this problem and its pros and cons.

Method 1: The Old Method
The traditional method is to draw boxes and lines manually in illustrator. Next, you place your text inside the boxes. Aligning the text in the table fields is always very time consuming as you have to do all the spacing using your gut feeling.

Method 2: Using Area Type Options
Another way is to draw a text field and go Type>Area Type Options. You can setup your columns and rows there. Enter your value in the first table cell. Press Tab repeatedly until you reach until another table cell to enter the next value.

This method uses text flow, hence adjusting your table after you enter all your table data will make your text overflow into the next table cell. Not a good solution as it always drive you screaming…

Method 3: Using Microsoft Word
Yes, you can actually copy and paste tables to illustrator. Table lines will be converted to fills and text remains editable. Fast and easy way to draw simple tables.

Method 4: Using Indesign
By far the best method is to use indesign to draw you table and import it to illustrator. Simply copy and paste the table from indesign to illustrator. Your table lines, colors and text will still be editable. You can have total control of the padding, columns font and even create alternating colored background fields in indesign.

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About The Author: Tony Soh

Hi. I'm the founder of Vector Diary. Illustrator is my passion and I have written numerous tutorials on illustrator helping people learn illustrator. My most popular tutorial on learn illustrator has been a hit. It makes learning illustrator so easy and has benefited more than 20,000 people worldwide. Also, I've revealed some of my secret techniques in the premium tutorials. So don't forget to check it out!

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  1. Gravtar for Kisan Bhat
    Kisan Bhat November 22nd

    I always use InDesign for Tables and I find it the best.
    Very versatile tool where one can customize every element of the table.

    I have’nt tried importing it in Illustrator (suggest you to write a tip).

  2. Gravtar for Khawla
    Khawla November 22nd

    Have you tried the new Adobe Illustrator CS4? Maybe there is a feature for table design? I have not looked at the new features of AICS4, yet. I am not thinking of upgrading to AICS4 right now.

  3. Gravtar for Cesar
    Cesar November 22nd

    I felt a little disappointed since your post doesn´t explain how to draw a table in Illustrator and I’m still wondering how to draw it, because I don’t have Word, and I’m not familiar with InDesign. Personally, I prefer to use the tab tool for spacing in rows and padding for columns. What about you?

  4. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary November 24th

    Hi Kisan, simply copy and paste from indesign to illustrator will do the trick.

  5. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary November 24th

    Hi Khawla, it seems that CS4 has implemented the table features.

  6. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary November 24th

    Hi Cesar, I have updated the tip. Same like you, I use the Tab key or spacebar to do the spacing. Seems like no easier way out…

  7. Gravtar for KRAZII
    KRAZII March 10th


  8. Gravtar for Esteban Rao
    Esteban Rao October 28th

    Hey Tony, thanks for this article, using method 4 saved my life.

  9. Gravtar for spideyro
    spideyro July 1st

    1: Draw a rectangle the size you need for the overall crossword, with a white fill and black stroke.
    2: Go to Object > Path > Split into Grid
    3: In the options dialog, change both gutters to 0, and enter the number of boxes you need horizontally and vertically.
    4: Click OK, then select any squares you want to be black and colour them appropriately.

  10. Gravtar for shabeer
    shabeer July 23rd


  11. Gravtar for Bill
    Bill October 24th

    Thanks. You gave me another idea.
    1)Create a table in OpenOffice (free!!!)
    2)Export it as a PDF
    3) Open the PDF with Illustrator

    I did this using Illustrator 10 (old skool)

  12. Gravtar for khalid
    khalid March 7th

    sir i want to know how can we measure the angle plz

  13. Gravtar for khalid
    khalid March 7th

    how can i se in illustrator angle degre plz

  14. Gravtar for khalid
    khalid March 7th

    how can i se angle in a circle in illustrator from 0 to 180
    plz thanks

  15. Gravtar for Tania
    Tania April 13th

    I can’t copy and paste from Indesign to Illustrator, nothing happens… I’m using CS3 -anyone else got this problem?

  16. Gravtar for Tania
    Tania April 13th

    I exported as an eps and opened it up in Illustrator fine.. 🙂

  17. Gravtar for Patrick
    Patrick May 14th

    So the solution to getting this Adobe product to work the way it should is … buy more Adobe products.

    Awesome. Inkscape is looking better and better every day.

  18. Gravtar for gwdesign
    gwdesign September 26th

    I tried copy and pasting from In Design. I’ve found that some of the text does not work and is converted to outlines. anyone else have this happen? Know a workaround?

  19. Gravtar for Mahmoud
    Mahmoud December 27th

    Very nice 🙂 Thanks alot

  20. Gravtar for WEBSEITE ERSTELLEN

    I really like it whenever people come together and share
    ideas. Great website, stick with it!

  21. Gravtar for promotional products canberra
    promotional products canberra April 10th

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