The best table plugin for WordPress

Last year I had the biggest webdesign job in my career (also the last one, as I quit designing websites for new clients just after). I wanted to make the CMS as user friendly as possible and went with WordPress. Two reasons: ease of use – with Joomla as the alternative WordPress was the clear winner. I could not figure out Joomla even after several tries and was dreading the day I’d have to explain it to others. WordPress on the other hand is easy to use. Of course Blogger is even easier, but we needed a professional site, not a blog. The other reason: I’d made WordPress sites before and was familiar with the platform.

Anyhow – the one thing that was missing was tables. I looked high and low for a table plugin that would satisfy my requirements, and could not find any. In the end I went without a table plugin and when push came to shove convinced the one person in the organisation who would have had to work with tables that he didn’t need them.

However, for a new site I just built for myself I did want tables. So I went and looked again.

Most table plugins create a database table in the backend somewhere and then expect you to pull it in with a shortcode. That may be the best method for things like forms, but for every day editing it’s just not a good solution. I wanted to be able to edit the table in the post itself just like you’d do in a word processing program.

There were a few table plugins I found that DID do that, but when I looked at the result in source code it turned out they added javascript to every page in the site. That’s not good. A table only requires some HTML, no JavaScript necessary. And extra JavaScript means a slower site, which is annoying for users and may cause Google to give the site a lower ranking.

So I looked on.

In the end I found the popular TinyMCE Advanced plugin. Last updated in 2009 unfortunately, but it does the trick.

I am not sorry I didn’t implement it on that client site, because teaching a newbie to use it would have been a bit of trouble. To make it look good you have to manually enter the width (100% works best in most cases). But once you’ve done that you end up with a table that can be edited too: you can merge cells, add rows, change the aligning of cells or rows or the whole table etc. In short: you can do what you’re used to doing with tables in your favorite word processing software.

So, TinyMCE Advanced is the best table plugin I could find. It’s reasonably user friendly and it doesn’t add bloated code to the finished post or the site as a whole.

BTW: do check the button under ‘advanced settings’ that says ‘Stop removing the <p> and <br /> tags when saving and show them in the HTML editor’. You DO want your paragraphs to show up as well… different paragraphs. 

See also: Must have WordPress plugins and The WordPress plugins I use.

11 thoughts on “The best table plugin for WordPress”

      1. Hi,

        could you clarify what you mean with annoying here? I’m always looking for ways to improve the plugin!


        1. Well, I don’t want to keep track of tables in a separate tab on my WordPress install. I want to edit them right there in the post. Like I would in MS word. Tiny MCE Advanced allows that. WP-Table Reloaded doesn’t.

          1. Thanks for the explanation. I see what you mean. However, with this approach, WP-Table Reloaded allows tables to be used on different pages rather easy, as well as easy configuration of the advanced features. For most people, the possibility to edit all of their tables in one place is more convenient. But fortunately, there are different solutions and different plugin, so everybody can choose 🙂

  1. I am looking for a plugin to smartly tabulate features, like the features in web-hosting websites. Which one would you recommend?

  2. I use CKEditor for work, which is similar to TinyMCE, the two seem to be the best solutions for allowing advanced editing, and both have WordPress plugins.
    It definitely makes editing content simpler if you can create tables with a WYSIWYG editor.

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