HTML and CSS Reference
10.4. Beyond Ordinary Tables
On the face of it, tables are pretty ordinary: just a way for academics and
other like-minded data crunchers to format items into columns and rows
for easy comparison. Scratch below the surface, though, and you will see
that tables are really extraordinary. Besides <pre> , the <table> tag and
related attributes provide the only way for you to easily control the lay-
out of your document. The content inside a <pre> tag, of course, is very
limited. Tables, on the other hand, may contain nearly anything allowed
in normal body content, including multimedia and forms. And the table
structure lets you explicitly control where those elements appear in the
user's browser window. With the right combinations of attributes, tables
provide a way for you to create multicolumn text and side and straddle
heads. They also enable you to make your forms easier to read, under-
stand, and fill out. That's just for starters.
We don't know that we can recommend getting too caught up with page
layouttables or beyond. Remember, it ain't about looks, it's about con-
It's easy to argue that tables of information benefit from some controlled
layout and that forms follow a close second. Tables provide the only way
to create predictable, browser-independent layouts for your web pages.
Used in moderation and filled with quality content, tables are a tool that
every author should be able to wield.
And now that we've whetted your appetite for page layout with tables,
don't despair that we've let you down by ending this chapter without ex-
ampleswe have several in Chapter 17 .