Your Complete Guide To Table Setting Etiquette

By on August 10, 2015


Guest Post by Rebekah Pickett – The Fashion Section

Golden spoons and forkFrom a family gathering to a dinner party and all of the meals in-between, setting the table is a part of everyday life!

However when entertaining, remembering where everything goes can be tricky. So to avoid any unwanted table setting mistakes, here are a few simple tips so you can get it right every time!

Basic table setting etiquette:

As a rule of thumb, a few key points to remember are:

  • The order of your cutlery is placed in terms of usage, working from the outside in
  • Knife blades always face the plate
  • The napkin goes on the left of the fork
  • When selecting glasses, they are positioned from the inside out on the right side of the plate, starting from water glasses to champagne flutes and wine glasses


To ensure you place your cutlery and glasses correctly, set up your plates first. Typically you should position your bread plate slightly to the left and above your dinner plate that is at the center. Your butter knife should be placed on the bread plate at a 45-degree angle with the knife handle facing towards the setting.

Rustic Table setting on old wooden tableForks:

Now that you’ve placed your plates, it’s time to set the forks. Place the entrée fork and the main course dinner fork on the left of your plate.

Knives & spoons:

With the blades facing inwards, place your dinner knife, your entrée knife, your desert spoon and soup spoon on the right of your plate.


Glasses are placed from the inside out on the right-hand side of the dinner plate, so start by placing your water glass above the dinner knife. Next is your champagne flute, red wine and white wine glasses. You don’t have to set all of these glass types for an informal dinner, however it is commonly done for a more formal setting. 

The difference between an informal and formal table setting:

When deciding how you should set the table, it really depends on the food you are serving and whether it is a formal or informal occasion. The main difference between informal and formal setting depends on the number of cutlery pieces and glassware you place on the table.

With an informal setting you will have enough tableware for a three-course meal while a meal of six-courses typically demands a more formal setting. In an informal setting, all the tableware is placed on the table at the same time while in a formal setting, some pieces may be cleared and others added.

Check out the infographics below to see the difference between formal and informal table settings.




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