Setting the table

The following guide is a basic set of rules for setting the table. It can be used for setting a formal as well as an informal one.

An attractive table adds to the enjoyment of a meal. To set the table, you need a “place setting” for each person. A place setting is all the items each person needs for eating. This includes the following appointments (any item used to set a table):

How a table should be set is determined in a large part by the serving style. Every family has its own eating style. There is really no right and wrong way to serve a meal, but there are three traditional serving styles:

For the Foods Level C Guide, the family style table setting is most appropriate. Food is either:

The following rules for setting a table correspond to the numbers seen in the table setting illustration below.

  1. The flatware, plate, and napkin should be one inch from the edge of the table.
  2. The plate is always in the center of the place setting.
  3. The dinner fork is placed at the left of the plate.
  4. If a salad fork is used, it is placed to the left of the dinner fork.
  5. The napkin is placed to the left of the fork, with the fold on the left. It can also go under a fork, or on top of the plate.
  6. The knife is placed to the right of the plate with the sharp blade facing in towards the plate.T
  7. he teaspoon is placed to the right of the knife.
  8. If a soup spoon is needed, it is placed to the right of the teaspoon.
  9. The soup bowl may be placed on the dinner plate.
  10. The drinking glass is placed at the tip of the knife.
  11. If a salad plate is used, place it just above the tip of the fork.
  12. The cup or mug is placed to the top right of the spoons.

Tips for setting the table

Learn the following tips that deal with eating manners so you won’t be embarrassed!

Back to top


© Copyright (2002) Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 47907. All Rights Reserved.