Tables generally behave as you might expect. They're fairly straightforward and not too troublesome.
But sometimes the features aren't that obvious. So here's a blog on useful stuff you can't easily see, as well as one feature Word users might expect that isn't there, but for which there is a decent alternate route.
Getting a blank line / carriage return at the top of a document when the table is at the top already
Here's your table. Let's say it's, oh, top performers for Amway from each state, or the exciting new political movers and shakers from each state. And it's right at the top of the page, but you want to write an intro paragraph like "Let's welcome the new political movers and shakers from the Midwest!"
and press Return.
Splitting a Table
This is relatively straightforward, but there are four ways to split it. Here's your table. Note that the first line is bold and centered. The Table Heading paragraph style is applied to that row in the table.
First, click at the left of the column that you want to have as the first line of the new table.
Choose Table > Split Table.
Now you have options.
Copy Heading is just what you would expect. The results look like this.
Custom Heading Apply Style is useful only if the line you're splitting on is going to be used as a heading. Here, it's pretty silly. It applies the paragraph style from the heading of the table to the top row of the new table. Also the first row is a heading, i.e. it will repeat at the top of the next page if the table goes far enough to continue to the next page.
Custom Heading is the same except that it doesn't apply any paragraph style. But the first row of the new table will still repeat on the next page if the table goes long enough, since it's a heading.
No Heading is the simplest approach -- it splits the table and does absolutely nothing else to it.
Automatically adjusting spacing to fit the text
Let's say you've got this table. You probably want to give the far right column a little more width, definitely, and maybe adjust some of the other columns to suit how much content they have.
Select the entire table. The Table toolbar will appear. The icon you want is the Optimize icon. (The icons shown here are for Ubuntu, use your tooltips if necessary on your version of OpenOffice.org.)
Click and hold down the arrow for the Optimize icon. All of these are useful but you want the far right icon, Optimal Column Width.
And here's the result.
Joining Two Tables
Sorry, there's no quick way to do this. Tables are just normal tables in Writer, and so part of the normal text flow. You can't just join text chunks. However, it's not too much work to copy and paste.
You have a table. You then have a blank line or three, then another table. You want them to be one table.
- Copy the second table (leave out the heading rows).
- Create a blank row at the end of the first table.
- Click in the first cell of that blank row.
- Delete the second table now that you've pasted it into the end of the first table