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Consider a block like the following:

                +-----------------------------------+--------------------------+
                | In Baseline                       | Not in Baseline          |
+---------------+===================================+==========================+
| In Parent     # Do Not Report                     | Mark ACE as AlwaysReport |
+---------------+-----------------------------------+--------------------------+
| Not In Parent # Iff parent depth > baseline depth | Report Always            |
+---------------+-----------------------------------+--------------------------+

I have seen tables like this used quite frequently. For instance, in Requests for Comments (RFC) documents, the standard format of the document is the text format. Another common case is embedding a small table like this into comments of source code.

Are there tools which can take a quick and dirty representation of this in Excel, or possibly some textual format, and format it as a table like this?

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There used to be tools like that, back in ancient times. But I haven't seen any for about 20 years. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 3 '12 at 2:49
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4 Answers 4

I found this Format Text as a Table online utility which is extremely useful.

Apparently it was created specifically for SE by senseful!

Of course, there are (both online and offline) ASCII art editors as well that might help.

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AsciiFlow is just one website I know of that lets you draw in ASCII.

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Wow, that's neat! –  Michael Kjörling Oct 3 '12 at 9:39
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A couple of solutions for you:

Email Effects

Email Effects is a program for Macintosh or Windows which allows pictures and drawings to be used in email, source code or any other plain text medium. It is the world's premier ASCII art creator and is being used for greetings cards, signatures, program flow diagrams, maps, chemical structure diagrams, logos, and much, much more.

See also: Open Directory – ASCII Art Software

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Emacs' Org-mode tables are sensational.

* Holiday update 2013

| Days off | Reason               | Dates off  | Days remaining |
|----------+----------------------+------------+----------------|
|        1 | Door installed       | 10 January |             27 |
|      0.5 | Garage tidy          | 28 January |           26.5 |
|        1 | Bank, garage, Hagino | 8 February |           25.5 |
#+TBLFM: @2$4=28-(@2$1)::@3$4=@2$4-(@3$1)::@4$4=@3$4-(@4$1)

Also, if it's ASCII drawing you want, try Emacs' artist-mode. You can draw tables with it and it has 1001 other uses (flow diagrams, etc.)

|                    ---------------
|                ----/              \----
|              /                         \
|             (   Hey! It's artist-mode!  )
|              \                         /
|              -                    /----
|      O      /  -------------------
|     -+-   -------/
|    / | \
|      |          It's   |  so   |   easy
|      /\         -------+-------+--------------
|     /  \        to     |  use  |   everyone!
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