Timothy B. Smith
Timothy B. Smith Editor-in-Chief. Designer & Developer at Mealthy.

Web Typography: Designing Tables to be Read, Not Looked At | A List Apart

Richard Rutter in an excerpt from his new book, Web Typography published on A List Apart:

Despite the huge variation in table size, complexity, contents and purpose, every table shares two simple design principles: they should be readable and support a sense of the data held within. They should not be prettied up to satisfy a sense of aesthetic when simply looked at. That said, a well-designed table can still be a thing of beauty but with the form following the function. Tables are not pictures of data: they are catalogues of data to be perused, parsed, referenced and interrogated. A well-designed table will enable the information to be read and understood, and will reveal the patterns and correlations inherent in the data.

I feel like we’re predisposed to hate tables. But this piece reminded me that tables can be readable and beautiful with some simple CSS. I’ll be honest, I learned some new CSS that I’m eager to use next time I need to style a table.