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Tables. No matter what some of the presentation design folks may like to think, people working in “hard data” fields like finance, real estate and analytics know full well that tables are essential to presenting data such as financial results, forecasts, and statistics, and that tables in PowerPoint Slides are important communication tools and are going nowhere any time soon.

Though the flexible, auto-sizing table features of PowerPoint are great, the options for display styles of tables on slides sometimes leaves something to be desired for companies looking to build their branding into their slide design.

Tables Galore

It’s not that PowerPoint doesn’t already offer you plenty of options for table formatting. There are a good 75 base tables style built-in, each of which can be customized further by selecting to display or hide certain elements using  the Table Style Options group on the Design Tab. You can get a good looking table out of this as long as you keep it simple, but more visually appealing designs are possible, and the “Best Match for Document” is often anything but.


Designing Custom PowerPoint Tables

When building PowerPoint Templates with Avopress Designer, each of these Table Style Options elements can be completely customized, creating a new reusable Table Style accessible in the very same gallery.

Step 1: Select Table Elements

This is a step that you will probably be coming back to as you adjust your design, but it is important to understand how the elements work together. In a nutshell, the more specific the table element, the more control it has over the entire Table Style. For example, if you select Bottom Right Cell, as one of your design Table Elements, the corresponding row and column of that cell, Total Row and Last Column, will override any settings for Whole Table or Banded Rows. Once the Bottom Right cell is selected, these elements will have to be styled again directly. Settings for the least specific element, Whole Table, may not be immediately visible if several Table Elements are selected.Powerpoint-Table-Styles-Options

Step 2: Choose Table Element Settings

This is the main design piece. For each selected Table Element, choose the Fill, Font and Border Settings until you get just the design that you are looking for. Font settings are limited to a choiceimage between the Heading and Body fonts of the theme, but all of the color options, and the standard Bold and Italic settings are available.



Step 3 (Optional): Select Table Style Effects

If you want to design your table using theme effects, click on the Effects tab and choose from the available effects. Options include:Table-effects

  • Outer Shadow
  • Inner Shadow
  • Glow
  • Reflection
  • Soft Edges

This is one are where Table Elements do not apply, and any effects will be applied to the table as a whole.


Step 4: Name the Table Style

Finally, give the new Table Style a descriptive name, This is the name that will appear in the Custom section of the Table Styles Drop down menu. As with the built-in styles, the preview icon for the custom table will change according to the options selected in Table Style Options.


Table Design Ideas

Most companies will choose to design their tables in their standard branded colors. This makes it very helpful that table designs are stored in the template, not the theme, and will adapt to theme color of any theme if Theme Colors are specified first and then used for the design. Professional designers and typography experts would know best how modern table designs should look, be here are a few designs that we like.

Total Row Line

This is a nice clean style that uses a header and a slightly think top border over the Total row to create contrast with a minimalistic appeal.

Custom Table Example

Box Braces

Use thick outside border the same color as the header and total row to give the effect of the table data floating within. Add slight outer shadow to intensify the effect.

Light and Airy

Translucent Bands

This is a nice effect to use when using an image background. Enable the Banded Rows table Element and set either the Even of Odd  rows to a solid fill, and the opposite rows

Custom Table Example

Corner Tab

You know how you don’t know what to do with the Top Right Corner cell, when you are using labels in both the First Column and the Header Row? If you can keep it short, you can use that cell as kind of a Title tab for the table. Just enable the element and style it differently to the rest of the table.

Custom Table Example

More Ideas

For more ideas on document and presentation table design, have a look at this article from Smashing Magazine for some good table design originally meant for the web. Regarding tables in presentations generally, check out a great book, The Designer's Guide to Presenting Numbers, Figures, and Charts. by Sally Bigwood and Melissa Spore.


Download the files used in the article and try it for yourself!

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