JFK learns how to build HTML tables

Posted on November 20, 2000

Those of you who have mastered the art of building a Web site have probably encountered the most important tool known to designers: the protractor.

Coming in second would have to be tables, the backbone to many pages you have visited in your lifetime, or at least within the last three weeks. Tables are the most primitive of the HTML tags because people like to have things in nice readable fashion, excluding tabloid magazines. Most people prefer tabloids that look similar to newspapers more than 40 years ago, which contained at least 343 headlines on each page.

There are plenty of handy things you can learn while building a table. The basic HTML tag is &lt table&gt . Please don't try &lt nightstand&gt , &lt couch&gt or &lt lava lamp&gt , although some day, a programmer should add &lt blender&gt to the mix (Ha! Can you believe they let me write this stuff?).

So to create a table, you start with &lt table&gt . The last code you will see will be &lt /table&gt . In between you will add other important things, like your lucky rabbit's foot. The next two tags you need to meet are &lt tr&gt and &lt td&gt. &lt tr&gt stands for table row, while &lt td&gt stands for table data (by the way, if you don't believe me, or if you'd rather get your table information somewhere else, please check this definitions page .

The number of &lt tr&gt tags will determine how many rows you have. The &lt td&gt tags will show the number of columns. So for two rows and two columns, you would have this:

&lt table&gt &lt tr&gt &lt td&gt&lt /td&gt &lt td&gt&lt/td&gt&lt/tr&gt&lttr&gt&lttd&gt&lt/td&gt&lttd&gt&lt/td&gt&lttr&gt&lt/table&gt

If you think programming languages are the hardest thing to understand since Dennis Miller came to Monday Night Football, don't fret. It's not the easiest thing in the world, such as trying tabloid cures for weight loss. But if you somewhat grasp the tables concept, and the code above, you are well on your way. If you need more practice, check out Javascript Source's tablemaker. You can make your own tables, and you can even copy the HTML code for personal use. Change the rows and columns values and see the &lttr&gt and &lttd&gt tags.

There are a lot more choices when building an HTML table: where you want it on the page (left, center, right), what kind of border, spacing between each cell, between the table and other things on the page, the alignment within the particular cells.

I hope you aren't lost yet. You can read the story about Princess Diana and Elvis being married on Mars a little later. I'm almost finished.

The spacing between cells is called -- this is a difficult concept, be warned -- cellspacing. The space between tables and other things, like loveseats, is called cellpadding. You need to define these things when you make a table. For example:

&lttable cellspacing=2 cellpadding=2&gt

Notice how you don't use commas. That type of punctuation is seen only in really risqu&eacute tabloid stories, like the one about the Pope and Marilyn Monroe.

There are a few other things I could tell you to make an effective table, but I really need to check my horoscope. Please check out Netscape HTML Tables Help and Annabella's HTML Help for more information.

Let's see, Cancer: "You will teach the world a wonderful thing." It's a good thing I left that tabloid at the supermarket.