How to Set a Table: Basic, Casual and Formal Dining (2023)

Coming together at dinnertime can be a great family affair, and most people will be familiar with setting out knives and forks for their daily evening meal. But what about those times when we want to make dinner more of an event, celebrating being with our loved ones, especially during times like these?

Are you confident in table setting rules and etiquette? Do you know the difference between a salad fork and a dessert fork? Or which glass is used for which drink, and where they should be placed on the table?

Our guide for how to set a table will show you the best ways to lay your table for different situations. Below we will outline some general rules for cutlery placement and look at specifics for the different types of table setting – basic, casual and formal. Enjoy our videos that will show you just how to set your table just right.

How to Set a Table: Basic, Casual and Formal Dining (1)
(Video) Learn How to Set a Formal Dinner Table

What are the Different Types of Table Setting?

As we mentioned earlier, there are general table setting rules and etiquette which can be applied to all types of tables and place settings. In addition to these, there are further requirements for more casual or more formal tables.

It is important to set a table differently according to the type of event you’re hosting – you don’t want to confuse your guests by giving them too many options! Also, your table set up will be different depending on what kind of event you are hosting. Casual will be more relaxed compared to formal dining tables. Ultimately it is up to you to decide how you want it to look and feel. We will outline three different types of table settings below: basic, casual and formal.

How to Set a Basic Table

The basic table setting comprises the implements you would need for an everyday meal. You would use a basic table setting for a daily dinner, or perhaps a special brunch.

To set your basic table, you will need a charger plate, a knife and fork, a water glass and a napkin. You can set your basic table setting up following the general rules above – there are no hidden extras here!

Often with a basic table setting there is no dessert cutlery given as it is not expected that you would serve dessert. There also does not need to be a wine glass if you are not drinking wine – but a fancy brunch setting may well come with a champagne flute for bucks fizz!

How to Set a Casual Table

The casual table setting is becoming increasingly popular at big events – such as at weddings – and dinner parties at home. It gives a special touch without feeling too stuffy or constrained.

To set your casual table you will need a knife and fork for both the starter and the main course – or a soup spoon if this is the starter. You will also need a spoon and dessert fork, placed horizontally above the plate. Glassware will depend on what you are serving, but generally there would be a water glass and a wine glass placed above the knives in the top right. Napkins can be placed in the centre of the setting, or to the left.

(Video) How to Set a Table Guide: Basic, Casual and Formal Dining

Casual table settings are a great place to play around with different looks. You might need to have a water glass, a wine glass and a champagne flute for each person, but you could mix up the styles and colours to make it unique to you. Charger plates are also a great way to get creative, you don’t have to use a plate, you could use a placemat, mirrored glass, or a piece of shaped wood if you are going for a rustic look.

How to Set a Formal Table

You often see the formal table setting used in traditional fine dining restaurants. Although a more modern trend is to remove plates and cutlery between courses and bring fresh utensils for each course served. At home, the formal style is most commonly used where there are more than three courses involved, or where the type of food served is more intricate.

The main difference with the formal table is the variety of different foods which then require different implements, different plates and different glassware to accompany them. Often formal dining also uses a tablecloth, but this is optional and again more frequently reserved for traditional establishments.

To set your formal table, start with your menu and identify what your guests will need. Are you serving soup? You will need a soup spoon, and likely a bread plate too. Once you have identified what you need to set out you can follow the general rules as above. Remember forks go on the left, knives on the right, and the soup spoon will go on the right with the knives. If you are setting a bread plate out, this goes in the top left corner of the setting. Remember to point your knife diagonally down, so that it is not seen as threatening to any of your guests! Your dessert spoon and dessert fork will go above the plate, fork handle to the left, spoon handle to the right.

When it comes to glassware for the formal setting you will have a water glass – usually the biggest glass on the table – a small wine glass for white wine and a larger, rounded wine glass for red wine. You may also decide to set out a cup and saucer for after dinner coffee, this would go underneath the glassware, to the right of the knives.

Even though formal settings are a little more traditional, you can still make them unique and work them into the overall look for your table. Consider using napkin rings, or decorate individual place cards to wow your guests.

How to Set a Table: Basic, Casual and Formal Dining (2)
(Video) Table setting: Basic rules & guidelines/table setup for restaurant/f&b service/training video

How to Set a Table Video

Our ‘How to Set a Table’ video demonstrates how you can set a basic, casual or formal table. Whether you’re looking for ways to brighten up family mealtimes, or brushing up on your professional knowledge, our video guide is easy to follow.

How to Set a Table: Basic, Casual and Formal Dining (3)

What are the Table Setting Rules?

No matter what table you are setting, whether it’s for two courses or eight courses, there are certain rules to always follow. Each guest has a setting and this is in front of their seat at the table. Their table setting should have everything they need to enjoy their meal.

Some general guidance on how to set a table are as follows:

(Video) How to Set a Table Basic, Casual, and Formal Table Settings

  • Cutlery is set in the order of use, working outside-in. Outer utensils are for the first courses with the innermost set reserved for the main course.
  • Forks always go on the left of the setting. The only exception is an oyster fork, which is sometimes used in a formal table setting and would be placed on the right, alongside the knives.
  • Knives always go to the right of the setting. The exception to this is if you have a bread plate.This is placed to the top left of the setting, with the butter knife on top of the plate.
  • Glassware is set above the knives. There are different glasses for different drinks but they are all grouped together in the top right corner of the setting.
  • If serving dessert, the dessert spoon and fork should be placed above the plate. The spoon handle should be on the right, while the fork handle should present to the left. This is so that the right hand can easily pick up the spoon, and the left hand uses the fork.
  • Napkins can be placed either to the left of the forks, or underneath the forks. If space is limited on your table, you can also place the napkin in the middle of the setting, or on top of the charger plate.
  • Use a charger plate. This is placed in the centre of the setting upon which other plates are set and it has multiple functions. It serves as decoration and adds to the aesthetics of the table. It ensures your guests’ setting is never empty during the dinner, and crucially it is a tool useful for hot plates where guests can adjust the charger plate without risking burning their fingers on a hot plate. The charger plate doesn’t have to always be a plate, it can be a traditional placemat, or something more contemporary, for example a piece of slate, or wood.
How to Set a Table: Basic, Casual and Formal Dining (4)

Each implement on the table has a function – whether that’s glassware, cutlery or crockery. It is unlikely that you would set a table without knowing what you are serving to your guests, so take the time to plan your table as thoroughly as your menu. You may find it helpful to write out your menu and go through what cutlery and crockery you will need for each course.

For example, if you are serving soup, you need to set a soup spoon down. If you are serving a light meal with seafood, chances are you won’t be drinking red wine, and so you won’t require the large red wine glasses. Remember, you should only have on the table the things your guests will need.

We hope our article has given you plenty of table setting ideas, and the videos have helped you with how to set a basic, casual, and formal table in your home.

Further Resources:

  • Online Food Hygiene Courses
  • What is the Temperature Danger Zone? Free Food Safety Chart


(Video) Table Settings Basic, Casual, and Formal Table Settings



What are the three 3 basic types of table set up? ›

Types of Table Settings. The three most common types of table settings are formal, casual, and basic. Each place setting includes the utensils and dinnerware pieces that would normally be used with the corresponding style of dining.

What are the 5 basic types of table setup? ›

What are the 5 types of table setting? The five most common table settings are formal, informal, Basic, Buffet and five-course.

Which is a basic rule of formatting tables? ›

Tables should be prepared using a roman font. Bold may be used for emphasis. Except for basic horizontal lines (see “Lines” below), tables should be free of lines, boxes, arrows, or other devises unless they indicate the structure of the data. Alternating white and gray rows are standard style shading for all tables.

What is a simple table format? ›

A simple table here means means that there is a maximum of one header row and one header column where a header column specifies the type of information in the column. In addition, there are no merged cells within a simple table.

What are 3 characteristics of casual dining? ›

  • Guests are waited on by a server or bartender.
  • Comfortable, laid-back dining atmosphere.
  • Moderately priced menu; often serve alcohol.
  • Typically have televisions in either the dining or bar area.

What does it mean when you put your napkin on your plate? ›

At the end of the meal, leave the napkin semi-folded at the left side of the place setting or on the plate. Either of these moves will signal to the wait staff that you have completed that course, and they may remove the dishes.

Does napkin go on left or right? ›

The napkin goes either to the left of the fork, or on the very outside. If you have three forks in a formal table setting, put the napkin on the plate.

What side does the napkin go on? ›

(c) Napkin: The napkin is folded or put in a napkin ring and placed either to the left of the forks or on the center of the dinner plate. Sometimes, a folded napkin is placed under the forks. (d) Dinner Knife: The dinner knife is set immediately to the right of the plate, cutting edge facing inward.

What is the basic table setting? ›

The basic table setting should include no less than a fork, knife, spoon and napkin beside the plate. As a general rule for placement, position the folded napkin two inches to the left of the plate and rest the fork on the napkin. To the right of the plate, place the knife with the blade facing the plate.

What is the most important in table setting? ›

An immaculately set table demonstrates uniformity and consistency of the eating establishment. More importantly, it showcases that cleanliness and hygiene are utmost priority. Table settings must be complete; having all the necessary tableware, centerpieces, napkins and condiments.

What are the 4 types of formatting? ›

To help understand Microsoft Word formatting, let's look at the four types of formatting:
  • Character or Font Formatting.
  • Paragraph Formatting.
  • Document or Page Formatting.
  • Section Formatting.
Apr 11, 2022

What is a table rule? ›

rules table — The rules table contains a set of rules that maps address input sequence tokens to standardized output sequence. A rule is defined as a set of input tokens followed by -1 (terminator) followed by set of output tokens followed by -1 followed by number denoting kind of rule followed by ranking of rule.

What are 3 formatting features? ›

Text Formatting Features
  • Changing font type, size style.
  • Changing font colour.
  • Underlining – Placing a line at the bottom of a text.
  • Bolding – Making the text appear more darker than the rest.
  • Italicizing –making the text slant forward.
  • Superscript and subscript.
  • Strikethrough.

What are table Styles answer? ›

A table style is a collection of table formatting attributes, such as table borders and row and column strokes, that can be applied in a single step. A cell style includes formatting such as cell insets, paragraph styles, and strokes and fills.

What are the six basic standards of table setting? ›

What are the Table Setting Rules?
  • Cutlery is set in the order of use, working outside-in. ...
  • Forks always go on the left of the setting. ...
  • Knives always go to the right of the setting. ...
  • Glassware is set above the knives. ...
  • If serving dessert, the dessert spoon and fork should be placed above the plate.
Jan 18, 2021

What is a table Question Answer? ›

Table Question Answering (Table QA) refers to providing precise answers from tables to answer a user's question. In recent years, there have been a lot of works on table QA, but there is a lack of comprehensive surveys on this research topic.

What is the basic rule of formal dining? ›

A formal dinner requires a man to wear a evening attire such as a tuxedo or sometimes even white tie. All food is served from the kitchen. Guests do not handle serving platters nor do they pass dishes. Neither serving dishes nor utensils are placed on the table.

What is casual dining dress code? ›

Casual. Casual is a dress code that encourages you to come wearing your most relaxed outfit. Sneakers, jeans and t-shirts are all acceptable, and even encouraged skip the shorts and flip-flops!) Casual attire is meant to be fun where you can shed off the stuffy office attire and instead dress for off-hours.

What are 3 rules of table etiquette? ›

With so many table manners to keep track, keep these basic, but oh-so-important, table manners in mind as you eat: Chew with your mouth closed. Keep your smartphone off the table and set to silent or vibrate. Wait to check calls and texts until you are finished with the meal and away from the table.

What makes a beautiful table setting? ›

Simplicity is the best – use simple but good quality fabrics, crockery and cutlery and try to stick to one palette (or use complimenting colours). For a rustic feel, swap flowers for potted herbs, and swap a table cloth for newspaper when serving messy foods like shellfish – and then serve right on the table.

What are the 3 types of tables? ›

Types of Table in Restaurant. Two to Four Person Tables. Bar Height Tables. Family Dining Tables.

What are the 3 categories of table wares? ›

Tableware can be categorized into four basic service types – serveware, dinnerware, flatware or silverware and drinkware or glassware.

What are the two basic types of tables? ›

The statistical tables may further be classified into two broad classes namely simple tables and complex tables.

What are the basic table setting? ›

The basic table setting should include no less than a fork, knife, spoon and napkin beside the plate. As a general rule for placement, position the folded napkin two inches to the left of the plate and rest the fork on the napkin. To the right of the plate, place the knife with the blade facing the plate.

What is the three times table rule? ›

There's a clever trick you can use to find out if a number is in the 3 × table. Add up the digits of the number you want to find out about - this is called finding the digit sum. If the digit sum is 3, 6, or 9, then you know that it's in the 3 × table.

What is the rule for the 3 times table? ›

The easiest way to learn the 3 times table is to remember that adding the digits of the numbers gives us the pattern of 3, 6 and then 9. Every time the pattern is repeated, we increase the tens digit by 1 and decrease the ones column by 1. For example, we have 3, 6 and 9.

How do you join 3 tables naturally? ›

How to join 3 or more tables in SQL
  1. Simple Join. First, all the tables are joined using the JOIN keyword, then the WHERE clause is used: FROM Employee e JOIN Salary s JOIN Department d. WHERE e. ID = s. Emp_ID AND e. ...
  2. Nested Join. The nested JOIN statement is used with the ON keyword: SELECT e. ID, e. Name, s. Salary, d.


1. Casual Table Setting
(Teacher Chris)
2. How to Set a Dinner Table with Cutlery (FULL TUTORIAL)
(Magnify School)
3. How to Set a Table | For Basic, Casual, & Formal Events
(CV Linens)
4. How to Set A Casual, Informal Dinner Table -
5. How to Set a Table | Learn how to properly set a table for Basic,Casual or Formal Dining.
(Shawni On the Spot)
6. Basic, Casual and informal Table Setting
(Hotel and Home Editor)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Virgilio Hermann JD

Last Updated: 02/02/2023

Views: 6193

Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Virgilio Hermann JD

Birthday: 1997-12-21

Address: 6946 Schoen Cove, Sipesshire, MO 55944

Phone: +3763365785260

Job: Accounting Engineer

Hobby: Web surfing, Rafting, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Ghost hunting, Swimming, Amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Virgilio Hermann JD, I am a fine, gifted, beautiful, encouraging, kind, talented, zealous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.