When should you not use HTML tables?


Generally speaking, HTML tables should be avoided for layout purposes, especially in modern web development where CSS-based layouts offer more flexibility and accessibility. Here are some scenarios where you should avoid using tables:

  • Layout and design: Tables should not be used to create page layouts. CSS is the preferred method for layout and design because it separates content from presentation, making it easier to maintain and modify.
  • Responsive design: Tables can be challenging to make responsive, especially when dealing with complex layouts. Using CSS for layout allows for better responsiveness across various screen sizes and devices.
  • Accessibility: Tables can present accessibility challenges for users, particularly those using screen readers. When used for layout, tables can confuse screen readers and make navigation difficult for users with disabilities.
  • SEO: Search engine crawlers may have difficulty parsing content within tables, especially if the tables are used for layout rather than presenting tabular data. This can negatively impact SEO.
  • Performance: Tables can increase page load times, especially when used for layout with unnecessary nesting and complex structures. CSS-based layouts tend to be lighter and more efficient.
  • Semantic markup: HTML tables should be used for presenting tabular data, not for formatting content. Semantic HTML elements like <div>, <section>, <article>, etc., should be used for structuring content.

So, HTML tables should be reserved for presenting tabular data, such as spreadsheets or data comparisons. For layout and design purposes, CSS should be used to create responsive, accessible, and SEO-friendly web pages.

Looking to create a table on the fly that's responsive and accessible? You can use our free HTML table generator to get the job done.