Autotab & Tabular

Why are Tabular and AutoTab so versatile?

Tabular has been a long- time favorite of Penta and PubLink users everywhere. The versatility of our tabular program along with the ease of keyboarding appeal to our users. We offer two approaches, the second building on the first. Core QualiType contains our Tabular command set, all you need to construct tables of the highest complexity. It’s been a central feature since the very first Penta system, and enhanced over the years. AutoTab, introduced in the late 1990s, is an optional program that applies AI methods to the task. It analyzes textual and numerical entries of a table and then constructs columns and the table itself to optimum widths, obeying your guidelines. In its power and accuracy, AutoTab has no equal among any commercial-grade or desktop composition system.


Tabular is logically keyboarded from left to right and top to bottom. It allows for ragged or justified copy to be used in any column. Left and right indents, horizontal moves, drop caps, mathematical expressions, and all other typographical features are fully supported in tab cells. Up to 100 columns and gutters may be specified, and an unlimited number of rows. In paginated work, tables may appear in place or may float on the page as do figures. Long tables may also break from column to column or page to page, with the table head optionally repeated above each new piece. Tables may be examined fully composed in galley or page preview before printing.

Using QualiType for Tables

A full command set is available for creating quality tables. Some of the main tabular features are:

  • Control over vertical and horizontal alignment of cell data.
  • Ability to freely mix text and numerical cells within the same table.
  • Straddle heads.
  • Horizontal and vertical rules.
  • Boxed tables with multiple line styles.
  • Decimal alignment with user-defined alignment character.
  • Automatic table positioning top/bottom/center of page

Simple commands

[dt (Define Tabs) sets up the table structure. Allows specification of the number of columns, the size of each column, and whether it is a gutter, rule, or text column. The weight of the rule, its color, and whether text in the column aligns automatically top, bottom, or center, are all specified in this statement. Then, [bt begins a tab row; [nt is used to go from one column to another, and [et ends the row. It’s that simple and yet powerful to set row after table row.


Using regular tabular, the size of test table cells may be captured into user variables, which can then be used to define your tab stops and gutters. This gem of a feature will save time and money when a lot of little tables appear throughout a manuscript, offering some of AutoTab’s automation.


Tabular has the ability to set straddle (or spanning) heads in tables. They are entered very easily. Any head cell, consisting of one or more text lines, may straddle any of the table columns. For instance, [ds3] starts a straddle cell that spans three columns, and [nt ends it. The program will place the justified cell lines over the proper columns.

Using AutoTab

AutoTab is designed to automate the most time-consuming tasks of table composition. The level of control to exercise over table building is up to you. On one hand the program can be used very much like standard tabular: You can specify precisely the column, gutter and overall table widths. On the other hand is nearly complete automation: AutoTab can analyze the input and judge how wide to make the columns and gutters, properly weighting text-heavy cells, and whether to set the table in one page column, several, or to turn the table broadside. And, there are grades of control in between.

Other powerful features of AutoTab:

  • Up to 9 vertical alignment points within a numerical column.
  • Easier inclusion of non-tab elements as part of a table.
  • Horizontal and vertical straddling of cells.
  • Integration with MasterPage for program-controlled sizing and placing of tables.
  • Auto-breaking of oversize floating tables page to page.
  • Auto-splitting of wide floating tables across facing pages.
  • Display of final table specs in EditMaster.
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