Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Tables

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Tables are a way of presenting information in rows and columns. They can be useful for a variety of content presentations on Wikipedia, but should be used only when appropriate; sometimes the information in a table may be better presented as prose paragraphs or as an

embedded list
. Tables can also make a page much more complicated and difficult to edit, especially if some of the more complex forms of table coding are used, so even if a table is used some consideration needs to be given to the table structure.

Avoid referring to tables as being located on the left or right of a display page. Placement of page content is different in

desktop view
of Wikipedia, and is meaningless to people having pages read to them by assistive software. Instead, use captions to identify tables.


It is recommended that

HTML tables, as they are easier to customize and maintain. A standard wikitable style is available by adding class="wikitable" to the table. A sorting
feature can be enabled by adding class="sortable" to the table. To use both classes, combine them as class="wikitable sortable".

Captions and headers

capital letters. In some rare cases, judicious use of soft hyphens may be helpful (see WP:Manual of Style § Hyphens
for details).

Much of

}} template to turn a header's text (or part of it) into an anchor.


In general, styles for tables and other block-level elements should be set using CSS classes, not with inline style attributes. This is because the site-wide CSS is more carefully tested to ensure compatibility with a wide range of browsers; it also creates a greater degree of professionalism by ensuring a consistent appearance between articles. Deviations from standard conventions are acceptable where they create a semantic distinction (for instance, the infoboxes and navigational templates relating to The Simpsons formerly used a yellow color-scheme instead of the customary mauve, to tie in with the dominant color in the series) but should not be used gratuitously.


for guidance on use of coloring or non-standard formatting, and for when MoS and WikiProjects guidance is at variance.

Consideration may be given to

consolidate information covered in the prose

Wikipedia tables are set flush-left, and allowed to grow rightward, not centered on the page.


Screen readers and other web browsing tools make use of specific table tags to help users navigate the data contained within tables. Use the correct wikitable pipe syntax to take advantage of all the features available.


MOS:COLOR for information about restrained use of color in tables, to avoid creating accessibility problems for color-blind
as well as normal-vision readers.

Do not separate items by leaving blank lines between them, even when using unordered or definition lists. The Wikipedia list templates explicitly identify lists for readers, rather than relying on visual formatting to indirectly imply the presence of a list.


Splitting lists and tables per

advised against
. Among other problems, arbitrarily splitting a wikitable effectively disables the powerful and useful sorting feature from working across the entire table.

On the other hand, overloading tables with too much detailed statistical data is

against policy
. Careful thought should be given to how a reader would use a table, and what level of detail is appropriate.

For very long tables, manageability and maintenance of the page may be better served by breaking information up into several smaller tables instead of one extremely long one. For example, a literary or film award that has been presented for several decades may be better presented through a separate table for each decade rather than one long mega-table, because one long unified table may be much more difficult for future users to edit or update properly.


While tables can be made sortable so that they can be rearranged to display the entries in different sort orders, there is no rule that tables must always be sortable in all cases—sortable tables are useful in some instances and not in others. In some tables, for example, the order of display may itself be important information in its own right, such that a reader would not benefit from resorting the table on another column to alter the display order, and in some tables there may sometimes be features or undetected coding errors that actively break sortability.

The various adjustments that may need to be made to the table's content, such as using special {{sort}} or {{sortname}} templates to impose an alternate sort order, may also create excessive complication in the table coding which can make it much harder to edit with any new information. If there's a column for individual people's names, for example, then consistent use of sortname templates will be necessary across the board in that column to ensure that the entries sort correctly by surname. Accordingly, if such special code will be necessary, then carefully consider whether there's actually any reader benefit to making the table sortable on alternate criteria at all before forcing sortability.

Where sortability is desired, ensure that the sort system is transparent and straightforward. Do not, for instance, use sequential numbers to enumerate a desired sort order on a column whose content is not actually numbers, such that an editor would have to manually renumber the entire table every time there's a new entry to add to it.

In some tables, it may also be beneficial to make some columns sortable and other columns not sortable at the same time; for instance, if the table directly contains a dedicated "References" column for the footnotes, it is virtually never useful for that column to be directly sortable. Per Help:Sortable tables, this is done by creating a sortable table, but adding class="unsortable" to the header attributes of the column where sortability is not desired.

Explanatory notes and legends

For the accessibility reasons stated in

dagger († ‡), or another typographical symbol accessible to those using screen readers. If there is adequate space, and doing so would not lead to excessive repetition, one should consider making information explicit by writing it out in the table row, possibly in a "Notes" column.[discuss

Any use of color coding, typographical symbols, or uncommon abbreviations should be explained in a legend (also called a "key") accompanying the table. Put the legend immediately before the table so that readers, especially those using

screen readers, will be aware of the meanings before encountering them in the table itself. The same or similar legend may be repeated for multiple tables within the same article, especially if the tables are in different sections, as any given section may be skipped by a reader.[discuss

. They should not appear inside the table itself, especially if it breaks the sorting order of columns.

Appropriate use

Tables are a way of presenting links, data, or information in rows and columns. They are a complex form of list, formatted into a systematic grid pattern. Tables might be useful for presenting mathematical data such as multiplication tables, comparative figures, or sporting results. They may also be useful for presenting equivalent words in two or more languages; for awards by type and year; complex discographies; etc.

The sortability of multiple columns in a table is a powerful tool that helps the reader to understand relationships and find patterns in large lists. The sortability of tables makes them very useful for "List of..." articles in Wikipedia, which are intended to give an overview of the subject area, and to allow easy comparisons among many similar items. Avoid cramming too much detailed information into individual table entries; if appropriate, the reader should be able to click a Wikilink to read a full, detailed article corresponding to a concise table entry.

Often a list is best left as a list. Before reformatting a list into table form, consider whether the information will be more clearly conveyed by virtue of having rows and columns. If so, then a table is probably a good choice. If there is no obvious benefit to having rows and columns, then a table is probably not the best choice.

Tables should not be misused to resolve visual layout problems. If the information you are editing is not tabular in nature, it probably does not belong in a table: Do not misuse tables for putting a caption under a photograph, arranging a group of links, or other strictly visual features. These practices make the article harder for other Wikipedians to edit, and will likely cause problems when viewed on different display sizes and aspect ratios. Also, when compared with tables, wikimarkup is more flexible, easier to use, and less arcane when used correctly for desktop publishing layout, page elements, and page orientation and positioning.


Multi-column sortable standard

Sporting results
No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Outcome Ref
1 1981 World Snooker Championship Wales Doug Mountjoy 18–12 Won [1]
2 1983 World Snooker Championship (2) Canada Cliff Thorburn 18–6 Won [1]
3 1983 International Open Canada Cliff Thorburn 9–3 Won [2]
4 1984 Classic England Tony Meo 9–8 Won [3]
5 1984 World Snooker Championship (3) England Jimmy White 18–16 Won [1]
6 1984 International Open (2) England Tony Knowles 9–2 Won [2]
UK Championship
Northern Ireland Alex Higgins 16–8 Won [4]
8 1985 World Snooker Championship Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor 17–18 Runner-up [1]
9 1985 Grand Prix Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor 10–9 Won [1]
UK Championship
England Willie Thorne 16–14 Won [4]

Multi-column standard with subcolumns

Year Title Release date Label Peak chart positions Certifications
1993 So Far So Good November 2, 1993 A&M 2
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 6 CA: 6× Platinum
US: 5× Platinum
SW: 4× Platinum
UK: 3× Platinum
1999 The Best of Me November 15, 1999 A&M 14 18 4 7 13 2 20 3 12 CA: 3× Platinum EU: 2× Platinum[6]
SW: Platinum
UK: Platinum
2005 Anthology October 18, 2005 A&M 4 28 30 39 29 65 CA: 2× Platinum UK: Gold
August 31, 2010 Universal
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Multi-column mixed sortable unsortable

List of acting performances in film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1961 Barabbas Patrician in Arena Film; uncredited
1963 The Beverly Hillbillies Janet Trego TV series, recurring role, 15 episodes
1963 Mister Ed Telephone Operator / Sailor's Girl TV series, episodes: "Love Thy New Neighbor", "Ed Discovers America"
1964 The Americanization of Emily Beautiful Girl Film; uncredited
1965 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Therapist TV series, episode: "The Girls of Nazarone Affair"
1966 Eye of the Devil Odile de Caray Film
1967 The Fearless Vampire Killers Sarah Shagal Film
1967 Don't Make Waves Malibu Film
1967 Valley of the Dolls Jennifer North Film
1968 Rosemary's Baby Girl at Party Film; uncredited
The Wrecking Crew
Freya Carlson Film
1969 The Thirteen Chairs Pat Film; also known as 12+1; released posthumously

Multi-column unsortable

Multi-column unsortable all numeric right justified

Mathematical tables
Multiplication table
× 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
3 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30
4 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40
5 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
6 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60
7 7 14 21 28 35 42 49 56 63 70
8 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80
9 9 18 27 36 45 54 63 72 81 90
10 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

Tree (cladogram) left rooted


"Crocodylus" megarhinus



Crocodylus anthropophagus

C. palaeindicus

C. palustris

C. siamensis

C. johnsoni

C. novaeguineae

C. mindorensis

C. niloticus

C. acutus

C. intermedius

C. rhombifer

C. moreletii

Gantt (bar graph linear horizontal) with color

Flow data

Inappropriate use

Simple lists

If a list is simple, it is generally better to use one of the standard Wikipedia list formats instead of a table. Lists are easier to maintain than tables, and are often easier to read.

Here is an example of a simple list using list formatting:

* 1980: Ultra Wave
* 1988: What's Bootsy Doin'?
* 1994: Blasters of the Universe
* 1994: Fresh Outta 'P' Uni

Which produces:

  • 1980: Ultra Wave
  • 1988: What's Bootsy Doin'?
  • 1994: Blasters of the Universe
  • 1994: Fresh Outta 'P' Uni

versus table formatting:

| 1980
| Ultra Wave
| 1988
| What's Bootsy Doin'?
| 1994
| Blasters of the Universe
| 1994
| Fresh Outta 'P' Uni

Which produces:

1980 Ultra Wave
1988 What's Bootsy Doin'?
1994 Blasters of the Universe
1994 Fresh Outta 'P' Uni


Prose is preferred in articles as prose allows the presentation of detail and clarification of context, in a way that a table may not. Prose flows, like one person speaking to another, and is best suited to articles, because their purpose is to explain. Tables which are mainly

links, which are most useful for browsing subject areas, should usually have their own entries: see Wikipedia:Stand-alone lists
for detail. In an article, significant items should normally be mentioned naturally within the text rather than merely tabulated.

Page layout

Page layouts (using multiple columns, positioning elements, adding borders, etc.) should be done via

, not tables, whenever possible.

Infoboxes and navigation templates

Do not use table code directly to make an

navigation template (a navbox or sidebar). Use an appropriate template, e.g. {{Infobox}}, {{Infobox3cols}}, {{Navbox}}, {{Navbox with collapsible groups}}, {{Sidebar}} or {{Sidebar with collapsible lists}}. Wikipedia:List of infoboxes
has numerous subject-specific infoboxes for use in articles.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Turner, Chris. "World Professional Championship". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b Turner, Chris. "International Open Goya, Matchroom Trophy". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  3. ^ Turner, Chris. "Classic". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b Turner, Chris. "UK Championship". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  5. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 58, No. 25". RPM (Library and Archives Canada). January 10, 1994. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  6. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards: 2002 Awards". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) – Europe. Retrieved August 15, 2010.