I discovered something since I posted my question
In my tables, even in the ones with just text, I was using css classes to format the type. When I removed the classes, the cell heights returned to normal. I'll experiment some more, I may even discard the tables and use css. I'm new at this and I actually learned css layout before html tables and found css easier to control. I got conflicting advice about which is best, but I think I'll go with my first instinct and 86 the tables.
Thanks for taking the time to respond, I can see that coding for IE8 will be more of a process than a quick fix.
My site is for a personal business that is in development, so no link yet. And yes, the cell-padding was at 0, it was just the link to my css that seems to be the culprit in changing the cell heights.
Last edited by Crescent City; 09-04-2010 at 02:11 PM..