Layout Tables

  • Introduction
  • Use tables for layout only when necessary: Table markup is designed to describe tabular data and not for laying out pages. Use style sheets for page layout whenever possible; fall back on table layout only as a last resort.
  • Use simple layout tables: Layout tables can be disorienting for nonvisual users when related elements are spread across table rows and nested tables. Design simple layouts using simple layout tables.
  • Use only basic table tags: Screen reader software cannot distinguish between "real" tables and layout tables, making table markup difficult for nonvisual users to ignore. Make layout tables as unobtrusive as possible, using only basic table tags, such as TR and TD.
  • Design layout tables for linear access: Software reads page elements in the sequence that they appear in the code. Make certain the logical information flow of the rendered page—banner, navigation, content, and footer—is reflected in the code.
  • Use flexible cell widths: Flexible layouts adapt to different viewing conditions. Use flexible measurements—such as percentages—to specify the width of table cells so pages will adapt to accommodate different displays and text sizes.