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    We can all agree tables are not supposed to be used for layout in web design. However, they do have a place in the web designers toolkit. The proper/semantic use of tables is for tabular data. What does that mean? According to the W3C,

    the table element should be used to represent data with more than one dimension

    . If you import/export the data from a spreadsheet, then you should use a table element.

    Considering what we know about the html 5 spec, what are some common uses for accessible & semantic tables.


    Anything that should be put into excel should have a table used for it. I, too, do not see your point.


    @chendrix: Careful, I’ve seen people do things with spreadsheets, that they definitely shouldn’t!!!

    If this post was to strike a conversation, it didn’t do good job…

    But I think to clear up, here are some items tables shouldn’t be used for:

    1. Layouts – Oh god no!
    2. Lists – Obvious, I think.
    3. FAQ’s – Question/Answer data is not tabular (IMO).
    4. Layouts – In case you missed it.

    Ok, I’m going to wing this bit and see how it reads:

    I think data in most tables can be grouped, or ordered in a way to convey a different meaning to the data within. A table cell would normally contain a single piece of information – a price, an address, a number, a date or even a hyper-link.

    Common, appropriate uses for tables?

    • Product range, features and associated prices?
    • Financial reports – money in, money out?
    • Any statistical analysis?

    What else can be said?

    This post has been written after a long day in hospital, with no food – in case I needed an operation – and eventually, no treatment – just a pat on the back. HOWEVER I will completely appreciate any attempt to rip apart the opinions in this post :-)

    Food and sleep now (10pm UK Time)


    @clokey2k Thanks for adding something to the thread…

    I was hoping to avoid people just saying “tabular data, not for layouts”. There are a lot of cases where the use of tables are not quite clear. For example, calendars, pricing plans, file directories, etc… I was hoping to get a running list of common uses for semantic tables. I guess I could just pop open a spreadsheet application and view some templates.

    Rob MacKay

    I think the description of a spreadsheet was for illustrative purposes. It’s not like people are saying you need to only use it for data you had in spreadsheets but for the type of data spreadsheets hold. Which, is quite a lot of stuff.

    Like @virtual said – everything you have spoken about there is all perfect for a table because it would work in excel :D Unless you want to do some sort of super awesome layout – a table is perfect in those situations.

    Chris Coyier

    Sometimes I use “scores from a baseball game” as a good example of when to use tables.

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