This seems like it would be a common problem, but I couldn't find a discussion in a google search.
Users often want to copy data out of html tables (off of web pages) so that they can paste the data into another application such as Word, Excel, or a text file.
But the selection process is awkward. The most basic problem is that by dragging with the mouse, it's easy for the user to select only part of the table, or to select what looks like the whole table, but is actually missing a few blank pixels in the upper-left corner that actually contain the "tableness" of the table, so they end up with a bunch of flat text copied.
A related problem is being able to select just a given column or range of columns.
I'm just wondering if there is a guide to how to handle this situation nicely. For instance, there could be a convention that triple-clicking on a table would select the whole table, or perhaps there could be a little button the user clicks to select the table, or perhaps control-A would select just the table and not the whole page. Each of these sounds plausible, but the button seems clunky and the other two seem obscure for the non-power-user.
Do you know of a discussion/guide for this and/or examples of websites that do this well?