Ploopie's Guide To Improving Tables (OUTDATED)

#1
This guide has been updated!  Ploopie's In-Depth Guide To Tables (With Screenshots!) (Revamped!) | Royal Road




Ok, so I'm only making this thread because I haven't seen it before. This is mainly to help LitRPG/GameLit authors with their tables.


First of all. What makes a 'good' table? The word 'table' is as taboo as it is common. For writers, it's an easy way to present their game stats or other forms of information. For some readers, it's simply a 'time for me to skip this' section. Why? Well, some of the time, it's because authors have a very bland representation of tables. It's just a damn blue screen with numbers on it. In this post, I'll try to go through how authors make tables, and how to make your tables better. Please note that I am not in any means a professional and am just doing this to help a friend. (I thought I'd share with all of you).
 
Examples
Royal road has a very easy-to-use table format function. Here are some examples of what I consider 'good' and 'bad' tables. *Please note that I'm not at all criticizing any people's work from this, it's just my personal opinion.*
 
Bad Examples
https%3A%2F%2Fwww.linkpicture.com%2Fq%2Fexample-1.png
It's so big that I can't even fit it into one screenshot!

https%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FpjCw2pY.png
Better, but still hard to read. This is an extract from my first story...

Good Examples
https%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2Fo4zCEnk.png
Extract from 'Dungeon Item shop'. (Direct chapter link)

https%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2F205I0Mi.png
Extract from my second book. 

https%3A%2F%2Fimgur.com%2FY16SVZa.png
Extract from Everybody Loves Large Chests (Direct chapter link)



What makes an unaesthetic table?
- Colour choice: A big topic to talk about. When making a table, make sure that the background colour doesn't make the text unreadable (or even slightly hard to read at all). It'll turn off readers or make them squint at their screens (Don't bully us!). This is a simple fix. All you need to do is change the text colour or the cell background. Also, the most common tables are your simple blue all round. This is unappealing to most readers and catches their attention. In a bad way.

- Structure: A plain, or unaesthetic table will have basic structure. Most of the time, this will be a [insert number here]x2, which creates some sort of a 'list'. Reader's don't want to read a shopping a list. Royal road has very easy to use formatting functions, like merging cells which I'll go through a little later.

- Text: Ah, here we are. Text, text, text. Now, this isn't the most important thing that makes a bad table bad. This is because some authors have the ability to cram lots of information into a single table while still making it look aesthetic. But beware, as most tables fail to do so. A safe rule to go with is, the more information in a table, the more likely the reader is to skip it. Also, make sure the information is important. Numbers and statistics are often skipped over, so you could try to make them smaller or seclude them in a different part of the table, whereas (common in LitRPG), skills and other information are usually more interesting to read. If your table is long, and list-like (like I said above), it's probably not going to be as appealing as a short table that is quick to read. A solution to this is cutting down the size of the information or even as simple as breaking up the table into separate others!
 
Aesthetics
What makes a table interesting to read?
Tips on improving your tables
1. Change your text
Changing your text is a really simple way to improve your tables. This can be done by changing the font, size, colour and alignment. Change the font and size and boldness for titles or different sections on the table. Change the colour and bold to put emphasis on certain words or phrases.
 
2. Change cells
To change the cells, you have to go into the cell menu. You can do this in a few ways. Background colour and cell size. Royal Road has a very useful merge cells function which can break up the table to make it more eyecatching - also to emphasize certain words or phrases. This is accompanied by changing the background colour. For health or mana you can change the colour to green or blue to simulate the game experience even more.
 
3. Change tables
There are three methods of changing tables. The first is the width, and the second is the border colour and type. Change the width depending on what you're intending to do with the table. If it's a notification you can shrink it. If you need more information, expand it. Please note that the width in your author editing screen is different to what actual readers will see. To perfect the size, you can click preview chapter at the bottom of new chapter. Customizing borders aren't that important, but can help with what you're trying to do. Personally, I like the 'solid' border, as it gives a really clean surrounding look. The colour can also be changed to fit different themes. What I find most of the time is that tables - especially the borders - look better in dark mode. However, it is possible for them to look better in light.
 
Summary
It's not hard to improve your tables. Using these tips will help you make your tables more interesting and aesthetic.
Notes:
- Don't be afraid to use images - I think. You might have noticed that I used images in one of my tables above, which helped to create a more game-like environment. To be honest, I don't see a problem with this and I personally like it.
- To merge cells or get to the cell page, click the table icon on your tools bar while on that specific cell and hover over the 'cells' area.
- To change the border and background colour of your table, click 'advanced settings' after going into the table page.

That's all from me! Here are a few questions.
Did you find this helpful?
Do you read tables in books or just skim over them?
Would you read the tables fully if they were personalized?
What book has your favourite tables?


Re: Ploopie's guide to: Improving Tables

#4
As someone that's totally not the bad example pffff (I promise the rest of my writing/book  is very good--the tables are one thing that needs to be very edited haha)
Thank you so much for this, Ploopie! I honestly hadn't even thought of the versatility of the tables and such in the site--but this is so cool to see. Your tables look awesome! And in the example of the Dungeon Item Shop, imbedding a drawing of the character's super cool too. 
I'm gonna work on editing my tables right now--thanks again! 
(And hopefully people can learn from my (bad) example xD)

Re: Ploopie's guide to: Improving Tables

#6

TripleSeven Wrote: Very nice tables! Though, one problem I could not find the solution here is that given how much effort there are in making good tables, is there a way to save the template or something?
Thank you!


To answer your question, technically, there is a way to save the tables. Personally, I'll keep a whole list of my tables in a separate draft chapter. Also, since I'm not yet publishing (I'm growing my backlog first), I prefer to design and do all the tables for the chapters I've currently written in a draft (for my other book). Then, when I post, I'll just copy and paste them into the chapter where needed. So I guess there's no proper way to save a template. However, if one of your tables are similar to the other, then you can just copy/paste and slightly alter it. I recommend keeping all the tables mostly the same design - go with similar colour schemes, fonts, etc.

It's not really effort to make these. I take it as a break from writing.

Hope this helps!

Re: Ploopie's guide to: Improving Tables

#12
newtinmpls Wrote:
Ploopie Wrote: Ok, so I'm only making this thread because I haven't seen it before. This is mainly to help LitRPG/GameLit authors with their tables.

You are awesome and I will lay offerings on your shrine -

BUT

Where do I start? I have never put a table in my writing, and while you give great advice on how to tweak it, I am ignorant in the ways of having anything to tweak

Good point...

To insert a table, just click the table icon next to the icon which changes text colour. Should be all good from there. Let me know if you have any other questions.