Can I use tables? Can I use tables?

Yes, absolutely – if you want to display data. You should not use tables for layout, but you definitely must use tables to display tabular information in a meaningful way.

Well-coded tables are important for screen reader users to read, navigate, and understand the data in the table.

Creating a table for data using divs and CSS will make that data much harder to understand for a screen reader user.

Choose your HTML based on semantics: use a table to show tabular information.

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For example For example

Incorrect: a table purely for layout Incorrect: a table purely for layout

// Incorrect: don’t use a table for layout only, for example in forms.
        <td><label for="blogname">Site Title</label></th>
        <td><input name="blogname" type="text" id="blogname" value="" /></td>

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Incorrect: divs show tabular information Incorrect: divs show tabular information

// Incorrect: don’t use meaningless divs to display meaningful data.
    <div class=”row”>The cities of WordCamp Europe</div>
    <div class=”row”><div class=”cell1”><strong>Year</strong></div><div class=”cell2”><strong>City</strong></div></div>
    <div class=”row”><div class=”cell1”>2017</div><div class=”cell2”>Paris</div></div>
    <div class=”row”><div class=”cell1”>2018</div><div class=”cell2”>Belgrade</div></div>

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Correct: a table to show tabular information Correct: a table to show tabular information

// A data table in it’s most basic form.
    <caption>The cities of WordCamp Europe</caption>

Header cells must be marked up with <th>, and data cells with <td>. For more complex tables, you may need thead, colgroup, rowgroup, scope, id, and headers attributes. The W3C WAI has a good and complete tutorial on how to do complex tables.

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Caption or summary? Caption or summary?

  • A caption functions like a heading for a table
  • Using <summary> in a <table> is deprecated in HTML5 and should no longer be used.

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Can we use role=presentation? Can we use role=presentation?

Yes, you can use the ARIA attribute role=presentation to tell a screen reader user that this is not a data table and let it read out like it’s text.

This works, but don’t use ARIA to fix broken HTML5. It’s a hack this way, not a best practice.

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Complexity Complexity

The rule of thumb is: the simpler the better. If your table is going to be very complex, consider splitting it up into more tables or find a different way to organize your data. It will probably also be easier to read for sighted users.

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Resources Resources

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Responsive tables Responsive tables