Most people wouldn’t have any idea what it means to set a formal table. This is mainly because there are not a lot of occasions in many people’s lives that would call for the use of it. However, if you are a member of the upper-class chances are you have seen what it takes to set a formal table according to proper etiquette.
If you are looking to impress someone with your knowledge of the proper way to set a formal table than you will want to read the Rules for Table Setting. Along with reading all of the information that you can read, there is also a Table Setting Diagram that gives a good visual reference. There are basically four different types of table setting arrangements depending on the amount of formally you are looking to portray. There are two basic rules for table setting;
Rule #1 Utensils are arranged by use from the outside in.
Rule #2 Forks go on the left side of the plate and knives and spoons go on the right(with few exceptions).
Table Setting 101
The proper way to set a table refers to the correct way to arrange the utensils and which ones that you will use depending on what you are serving for the meal. Below we will describe each of the three types of table settings and include the proper way to arrange the utensils according to proper table setting etiquette.
Basic or Casual Table Setting
When it comes to setting a basic or a casual table that is commonly used by most restaurants there are actually two different ways to do it.
All of the utensils are placed on the napkin - In this type of place setting the napkin is arranged on the left-hand side of the plate and all of the utensils are placed on the napkin and the drinking glass is placed above the plate on the right-hand side of the plate. The way the blade of the knife is facing is important in that when it is placed on the napkin it should always face the fork. In the case of a restaurant, you will find that most casual dining restaurants will wrap the utensils in the napkin and put them out when the waiter or waitress comes to the table to take the order.
Only the fork is placed on top of the napkin - In casual or basic type of table setting the napkin is arranged to the left-hand side of the plate and only the fork is placed on the napkin. The remaining utensils are placed on the right-hand side of the plate. It is equally important that when you place the knife down on the right-hand side of the plate the blade should also be facing the fork. The drinking glass is also placed on the right-hand side of the plate just above the knife and spoon.
Informal Table Setting and Semi-formal Table Setting
An informal table setting is a little important than your typical meal and you want your guests to feel like you went out of your way to impress them. This type of table is also likely to be used by a family that has a long-standing tradition of having a special family meal on Sunday. A typical place setting includes the napkin folded and placed on the left-hand side of the plate and dinner fork is placed on the table between the napkin and plate. The spoon and knife are placed on the right-hand side with the knife blade facing the fork. The drinking glass is placed on the right-hand side of the plate just above the knife. If you are serving bread or dinner rolls a small plate and small butter knife for the spread which is placed on the plate with the blade facing the diner is placed on the left-hand side above the napkin. If you are planning to serve a dessert with the meal, you want to be sure that the dessert fork and dessert spoon are placed at the top of the plate. The fork is placed just above the plate with the handle pointing to the left and spoon is placed above the fork with the handle facing to right.
Formal Table Setting
A formal table setting is generally designed to accommodate multiple courses of the meal. This is also true for most high-end restaurants that feature multiple course meal servings. While there will be additional utensils to be used for the addition of the different foods being served with each extra course, the rule of placement at the table will not change. You still place the forks on the left-hand side of the plate and the knives and spoons will go on the right-hand side of the plate.
Generally speaking, if soup or salad is served as a course a soup spoon will be brought to the table and it will be placed to the inside of the knife. The salad fork would be placed inside of the dinner fork next to the dinner plate. The knives are placed with the blades facing the plate and if there is soup to be served, the soup spoon would be placed between the two knives if applicable.
The drinking glasses are placed at the top of the place setting, just above the knives and at a 45-degree angle from the plate. The regular drinking glass is placed first and it goes just above the knives. Next comes the wine glasses (if wine is being served) and then champaign flute or sherry glasses (if applicable). Dessert utensils (spoon or fork) are placed centered above the dinner plate with the fork handle pointing to the left and the spoon handle pointing to the right.
When it comes to setting your table it really comes down to what kind of impression you are trying to make on your dinner guests. Whether you are having a casual dinner with friends, a more formal dinner with that special someone or an all-out formal dinner with multiple courses, there are some very important rules that you need to follow in order for you to be as authentic as possible. We hope that the guide that we have presented is easy to follow and provides you will all of the Rules for Table Setting Complete with Table Setting Diagram.