For most office workers, it’s difficult to imagine a workday without tables. They help us track and communicate progress, assets, budgets – virtually any information that needs to be calculated, stored or sorted.
If Confluence is your primary work environment, you’ve probably used the tables feature – but it might be more robust than you think. Aside from the standard grid of information, you can also organize and compute data by using Confluence’s suite of associated apps. By doing so, you’ll realize that there’s no need to use any other tools for depicting and processing tables, especially since native Confluence features already allow you to create tables, customize them, and make them engaging and interactive.
Confluence has lots of powerful tools that will help you organize your tables neatly and conveniently. You can manage product requirements, resourcing plans, or other project information using a wide array of macros, such as Page Properties and Page Properties Report or Task Reporting Table. Plus, with pre-defined blueprints, it will take you no time at all.
Let’s dig deeper into the best practices for working with tables in Confluence and see everything in action from basic features to more advanced techniques.
Structure your data for faster comprehension using Confluence’s native customization tools
After you create a table in Confluence, there are many things you can do to make it look exactly the way you want.
Format your table’s layout to get all the information in one view
Tables can help communicate lots of information in one glance but only if the cells display all the information in a comprehensible way. Define your table layout using the following tips.
- Use the button with two horizontal arrows to make the table as wide as the page or adjust it to the center. You can choose one of three table sizes.
- Set the width of each column. Hover over the borders of a column, and drag until it reaches the right size.
- To make columns the same width, select them and click the down arrow. Select the “Distribute columns” option.
Communicate faster visually with cell formatting
You can help people find specific topics or groups of information at a glance using color coding or images. Here are a few native Confluence tools to help you get started:
- Merge several cells by selecting them, clicking the down arrow, and choosing “merge cells.” You can also split the cells but only if they were merged before.
- Organize your tables with headers by clicking on “Table Options” at the bottom of the table and choosing whether you want to set a header row or a header column. There is also the extra option of adding a numbered column that is useful in case you have a large list in your table – simply choose “Numbered column,” and it will appear on the left side of the table.
- Use different colors to highlight certain cells. Select the cell(s) and click the down arrow, then choose your color in “Cell background.”
Familiarize yourself with native tools to communicate effectively with Confluence tables
Confluence has plenty of other fun tools to help you create clear, scannable information:
- Fill your table up with statuses. Add the Status macro by typing “/status” in the cell or selecting it from the macros at the top toolbar. Name your status and choose its color.
- Specify dates with the Date macro. Add the macro to the cell and select a specific date from the interactive calendar.
- Make your table more fun and engaging with emojis. You can use them in place of statuses or to visually mark data. Click the smiley face icon at the top toolbar to find all of the emojis.
For more tips, watch this video on how to customize your tables in Confluence.
Merge similar tables to get an overview of work across teams
Confluence also allows you to manage tables that contain similar data. If such tables are scattered around your workspace, you can merge them into one bigger table. This way, you can group information about separate tasks on one page or extract specific information from detailed project requirements, merging them in one table for a quicker overview.
You will use two macros in this case: Page Properties and Page Properties Report.
First, you need to add the Page Properties macro to the page and place a two-row or two-column table inside of it. Set a label for this page and other pages with similar tables. These labels will be used later in the Page Properties Report macro to pull out particular pages and form a table from them.
After wrapping all of your tables into the Page Properties macro, you can create a new page. Lastly, insert the Page Properties Report macro, select the labels you previously set, pick a space where these tables are located, and save the page.
Using predefined page blueprints makes the process even easier. You can create a template yourself, adding the specifically formatted tables and macros. Or you can use the ready-made blueprints, which already contain the Page Properties macro, such as the Product Requirements Blueprint.
For a little inspiration, you can watch a video on how to use the Page Properties and Page Properties Report macros.
Leverage Confluence table macros to keep projects on track
People who use Confluence for project management often set tasks on various pages. While it might be hard to keep track of these tasks if they are located in different places, it is possible to organize them in one table, especially if these tasks are related to a certain project. The process is simple.
Create a new page and add a Task Report macro to it. Configure its settings:
- Select a Space or Pages from which the tasks derive.
- Choose an assignee for the tasks.
- Pick a status for the tasks.
- Decide how to sort the tasks and which columns to display.
Save the macro and the page, and you’ll see a table with all of the tasks. You can mark them as done, and the status will be updated on the corresponding page, too.
If you use Jira to track your tasks, you can still create alignment and transparency across teams by linking Jira and Confluence and adding the Jira Macro. In the macro settings, you can select the project or issue(s) you want to display. You can even build charts on the basis of the underlying Issues or Projects in your Jira Issues table. Just click Jira Charts on the left when you are editing the Jira Macro.
Extend Confluence tables capabilities with Table Filter and Charts
If sharing, processing, and visualizing tabular data is critical for your team, it might make sense to invest in a Marketplace app to extend your capabilities. Table Filter and Charts for Confluence, for example, is a popular app among Confluence users:
- Filter tables. The Table Filter macro applies the most relevant filters to the table columns, such as dropdown or date filters. You only need to choose which data to depict.
- Group and calculate data. Use the Pivot Table macro to quickly compare values. Choose columns with repeated inputs to act as row and column labels and pick the type of calculation.
- Build charts and graphs. Turn tabular data into dynamic charts that you can change on the fly. The Chart from Table macro offers over 15 kinds of charts.
- Transform existing tables. Merge your tables using the integrated presets or perform a custom transformation with the help of SQL functions.
- Output tables from other sources. These custom table macros support files in CSV, TSV, or JSON formats, and tables from Google Sheets.
- Re-use tables on different pages. The Table Excerpt macro derives a table from one page, and the Table Excerpt Include macro depicts it in another place. You can also output source page metadata in the same table.
With an app like Table Filter and Charts for Confluence, you can add the Table Filter, Pivot Table, and Chart from Table macros in view mode by clicking on the funnel icon at the top of the table. The app suggests the most relevant options for each macro, but you can explore other charts right in view mode.
If you want to make more drastic changes to your data analysis and visualization, you can go to edit mode and adjust settings until you get the desired result.
Confluence tables can be versatile and fun to work with. Take advantage of our best practices, and get creative with your tables to maximize their full potential.
This is a guest post written by Maria Kurnosenko, a content marketing specialist at Stiltsoft. Stiltsoft is an Atlassian Platinum Marketplace Partner with more than 20 apps for Confluence, Jira, and Bitbucket.