Pages 2: Can’t set ‘Row Height’ value lower than 1.0 for table rows

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft, Pages
March 13th, 2006 • 3:19 pm

Yet another very weird limitation in Pages 2’s table authoring tools.

Try inserting a new table in a Pages document, then select a table row and go to the Table inspector. In the “Table” tab, go to the “Row Height” field.

On my machine, by default, the row height value in the field is “0,88 cm.” (I use the French Canadian number/date formats in System Preferences, so my decimal separator is a comma. And my ruler unit preference in Pages is centimeters.)

If I go to that field and type any decimal value above “1,0 cm,” everything works as expected. But if I try entering “0,8” or “0,9,” Pages… beeps are does absolutely nothing. It refuses to change the value altogether.

Things get even weirder. If I click on the little up/down arrows next to the field, Pages goes up or down by 1 cm for each click. But if the current value is “1,5 cm” and I click on the down arrow, Pages goes down to… “0,88 cm.” It’s as if that value is the absolutely minimum. But if I type “0,9 cm,” I still get the beep and nothing happens.

There is also a fairly significant problem with tables imported from Word documents. In my experience, the row height values for such tables are all screwed and you’ll want to fix them. But unlike Word, Pages doesn’t have an “Auto” value for row height that would automatically adjust the row height to the actual contents of the table rows.

Instead, it has a checkbox labelled “Automatically resize to fit content” next to the “Row Height” field. The trouble is that, in my experience at least, this option doesn’t work properly. If I select a table freshly imported from Word, the “Row Height” field is blank, but even if I check the option to automatically resize, nothing happens and the row heights are still inappropriately large.

In fact, if I select a single table row or cell in that table, I can see that there is actually a fixed decimal value for the row height for that row/cell. So presumably the reason the field is blank when the entire table is selected is that each row has a different value and Pages cannot display these multiple values in a single field. But this also means that there is no visible option to remove the fixed row height values for the various table rows and only use a flexible “automatic” value that adjusts to the contents of the table rows.

All I can do is type in a small fixed value such as “1 cm” and check the “Automatically resize to fit content” box. But then all my rows have a minimum row height value of 1 cm, which for some rows with only a single line of text, is in fact too big. Because of the problem with decimal values lower than 1 cm, I cannot change that!

It really is quite irritating. Add to that that the performance of table formatting tools with large tables is pretty awful in Pages (say hello to the Spinning Beach Ball of Death, even on a G5 Quad), and this makes for a rather unacceptable word processing experience.

If you really need to work with tables, I guess it’s better to stick to Microsoft Word!

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