Responsive Tables with CSS & HTML or WordPress

Responsive Tables with CSS & HTML or WordPress

An HTML table is used for storing data or information. A table is often a key component in webpage building so it is important that we know how to create responsive tables in the era of responsive web design.

There are several different types of HTML tables and today we are going to take a closer look at them to better understand their purpose and creation of the responsive tables with CSS & HTML or WordPress.

Table of contents

Responsive Design and responsive tables
Responsive tables approaches
How to create responsive tables (with examples)
Ending thoughts

Responsive Design and responsive tables

If we want to understand responsive tables better, first we need to know what it means when we say that a design is responsive.

Responsive design is the design that is adjustable to the screens of different sizes. When we talk about an HTML image or table, it’s all about what happens when the screen is narrower than the minimum width of a data table.

Responsive Tables as a Part of a Responsive Design

Making tables responsive has been quite a challenge since the introduction of responsive web design.

Data tables are often quite wide and a single row of data often needs to be kept together if we want it to actually make sense. Of course, tables can flex in width, but is that really a solution? Well, it can be until the point when they start wrapping cells’ content in a way we don’t want them to. There is also a point where they simply can’t go any narrower.

Luckily, there are 3 patterns that can help us solve this problem:

  1. The Horizontal Overflow

The horizontal overflow table in HTML can be easily seen whole by simply scrolling right and left. The first field is usually fixed and the others become visible as the user scrolls through the content.

There is one downside, however. The user might not know or notice that the table is scrollable. If that happens, there is a chance they will miss most of the table. To avoid the possibility of the user not seeing the most important content, the key fields should be in the first 3 columns.

  1. The Transitional Tables

A transitional CSS table is a good solution if you want to avoid scrolling that is the necessary part of viewing the horizontal overflow tables.

What happens with this table is that the field titles are formatted at lower CSS breakpoints to a row format instead of a column structure.

Unfortunately, there is also a downside. A transitional table CSS diminishes scanability and field comparison.

  1. The Priority Tables

The priority tables simply hide fields on lower screen sizes. The tables formatted like this usually look beautiful but the problems occur if the omitted fields were, in fact, the most important ones.

Responsive Table Approaches

There are several ways to make responsive tables.

  • Squash–you can squash table HTML horizontally by moving the HTML table border if there isn’t much content in the columns. By doing this, you can avoid changing the entire layout of your table
  • Vertical scroll–if you want to avoid changing the content and/or the layout of your table, by all means, the users can scroll to the left and right to see the full table
  • Collapse by rows – you can turn your table into several smaller tables by splitting each row into its own single column
  • Collapse by columns – you need to learn HTML to do this because this part is a bit tricky. In CSS style tables, the code order is by table rows and the locked-in<tr> wrappers. If you want to collapse your table by columns, you have either to manipulate with JavaScript or to change the markup.

Things to Avoid when Building a Responsive Table

People have tried many different methods of building responsive tables and here are some that are not particularly effective. You should probably avoid them altogether.

    1. Using JavaScript to generate a second narrower table, then alternately hide and show by breakpoint. This method will break up unique IDs in the tables.
    2. Using JavaScript and normal table markup at a breakup to rearrange the table. Horizontal and vertical tables require different markups while this method also requires DOM manipulation and many JS event listeners.
    3. Keeping table markup and switching to display:flex for vertically aligned table content.

NOTE: If all of the above sounds too complicated to even try – don’t get discouraged. There are simpler ways to create responsive tables. You can visit for more useful tips (w3schools HTML offers a variety of explanations HTML help for the website builders). So let’s take a look at some of the tools that you might find useful.

How to create responsive tables

For WordPress


WpDataTables works with any WordPress Theme. It is one of the most popular WordPress Excel-style table generators. It comes in two versions: Lite and Premium.

One of its benefits is the quick and easy setup process. It’s user-friendly, so previous coding experience isn’t necessary to use this plugin.

It allows users to create dynamic and customizable tables. It can merge cells, add star ratings, and style each individual cell.

Other functions enable the adding and removing of columns and rows, and resizing them. The formatting customization includes changing the color, inserting a company logo, and more.

The Undo/Redo feature is also very useful when creating a personalized table.

The generator offers custom links and custom HTML. It supports Excel, CSV, JSON, XML, and serialized PHP arrays.

The Lite version comes with documentation and tutorials. But there is a maximum limit of 150 rows per table. It also does not allow users to create a table manually.

The Premium version offers additional features that enable users to design highly responsive tables. These features include multiple database support and advanced filters.

It is worth trying the free plugin with all its features first. If it’s discovered that the advanced functions are necessary, then opt for the Premium version.

The team and support are professional.

Key features:

  • Responsive tables by default
  • Flexible and customizable
  • Excel-like interface
  • Advanced filtering
  • Inline table editing
  • Visitors filter tables on a per-column basis
  • Visitors can edit their own rows
  • Conditional formatting, formulas, and more
  • Calculation functions

For Bootstrap


A responsive table plugin built on jQuery and made for Bootstrap.

For Foundation

Responsive Table with Foundation

Responsive jQuery tables

Basic Table

A simple lightweight jQuery responsive table library. A library to setup tables for a basic responsive table structure.

Material Design Responsive Table

Tested on Win8.1 with browsers: Chrome 37, Firefox 32, Opera 25, IE 11, Safari 5.1.7 You can use this table in Bootstrap (v3) projects. Material Design Responsive Table CSS-style will override basic bootstrap style.

Responsive Table with json data

Responsive table with just CSS

Simple Responsive Table in CSS

This is a relatively well-known pattern for responsive tables, but it’s worthwhile to give a reminder or FYI to the new folks.

Responsive Table Solution

Really Responsive Tables using CSS Flexbox (complex)

Really Responsive Tables using CSS Flexbox – part 4. A complex example with lots of different kinds of fields, and a very custom wrapping logic. This is part of the Really Responsive Tables pen collection.

Pure CSS Responsive Table.

Responsive Table

Changes table layout to work in mobile size screens. This is adapted from Geoff Yuen’s Responsive Table design.

Responsive Tables with Flexbox

Responsive Tables (by rows)

This Pen is a fork of Davide Rizzo’s Pen Responsive Tables (By rows).

Responsive Tables (By columns)

This Pen is a fork of Davide Rizzo’s Pen Responsive Tables (By columns).

Responsive Tables (Cell styles)

Responsive Tables (Collapse)

This Pen is a fork of Davide Rizzo’s Pen Responsive Tables (Collapse).

FAQs about responsive tables

1. What is a responsive table?

A table that is responsive is one that can change and alter its layout according to the size of the screen it is being seen on. This indicates that a variety of devices, including desktop PCs, smartphones, and tablets, can readily view and use the table.

2. How do you create a responsive table?

When building a responsive table, HTML and CSS are used to establish the table’s layout and structure as well as how its display should change depending on the size of the screen. To maintain readability on smaller displays, this may entail establishing guidelines for column lengths, hiding or rearranging columns, and modifying font sizes and spacing.

3. What are the benefits of using a responsive table?

The biggest advantage of adopting a responsive table is that it makes it simple for people to examine and interact with complex data on a variety of devices without the need to zoom in or scroll horizontally. This can enhance user convenience and increase the usability and accessibility of data.

4. How can you optimize a responsive table for mobile devices?

It’s crucial to maintain a straightforward and streamlined design, with distinct column headings and minimal formatting, for a responsive table to be optimized for mobile devices. The design of tables should make it simple for users to navigate through the information and obtain any additional details or annotations.

5. What are some best practices for designing responsive tables?

Using clear and succinct column headings, limiting the use of colors and style, and avoiding lengthy text blocks are some best practices for creating responsive tables. Key information should be highlighted in tables to make them simple to scan, and more information should be available upon request.

6. How do you handle long table data on smaller screens?

Use pagination or scrolling to divide the data into manageable bits in order to handle large table data on smaller devices. Also, users should be able to sort and filter the data in tables according to their individual requirements and preferences.

7. What are the limitations of responsive tables?

One drawback of responsive tables is that if the data is really complex or if there are a lot of columns, they might be challenging to utilize or traverse. In these circumstances, using other visualization techniques, like graphs or charts, may be more beneficial.

8. How do you ensure accessibility in responsive tables?

Use semantic markup and provide the proper alt text for pictures and icons in responsive tables to enable accessibility. Moreover, tables should be made so that users of assistive technology can easily navigate them using keyboard commands and receive the proper feedback.

9. How do you test and debug responsive tables?

Using a variety of tools and techniques, testing and debugging responsive tables involves examining the table’s appearance and functioning across various devices and screen sizes. This can involve utilizing automated testing tools to look for problems or inconsistencies as well as browser developer tools to mimic various screen sizes.

10. What are some alternative solutions to responsive tables for displaying tabular data on mobile devices?

Charts and graphs are other options for showing tabular data on mobile devices in lieu of responsive tables, as is pagination or scrolling to divide the data into more understandable portions. Another choice is to utilize accordions or collapsible sections to expose or hide additional information as necessary.

FAQs about CSS tables

1. What are CSS tables and how do they work?

Instead of using the standard HTML table tags, CSS tables allow you to create tables in HTML. With this technique, it is possible to have more control over the table’s appearance and behavior. The way CSS tables function is by adding CSS styles to a container element and any child elements that serve as the table’s rows and cells.

2. How can I create a table using CSS?

You can define a container element with a display property set to “table” to generate a table using CSS. Then you may construct extra child elements within each row for each cell, as well as child elements within the container for each row. To manage the table’s appearance and functionality, you may then add styles to these elements.

3. What are the benefits of using CSS tables over traditional HTML tables?

Compared to conventional HTML tables, CSS tables provide more flexibility and control over the table’s design and behavior. They make it possible to design responsively, make customization simpler, and improve accessibility for people who rely on assistive technology. Moreover, CSS tables isolate the presentation from the content, making it simpler to change and maintain the table’s style.

4. How can I style different elements of a CSS table, such as the header, footer, and cells?

With CSS selectors, you may style various CSS table elements. For instance, you can target particular rows or cells using the:nth-child pseudo-class, or you can target particular items using classes or IDs. These elements can then receive styling, such as background color, font size, and padding.

5. Can I apply hover effects to a CSS table, and if so, how?

Yes, you may use the:hover pseudo-class to add hover effects to a CSS table. For instance, you can alter a row’s or cell’s background or font color as the user hovers over it. Transitions can be used to enhance the hover effect with animation effects.

6. How can I make my CSS table responsive so that it looks good on different screen sizes?

Use CSS media queries to change the styling based on the screen size to create responsive CSS tables. On smaller displays, for instance, you may raise the padding or decrease the font size to make the table simpler to read. To build a more fluid layout that adjusts to multiple screen widths, you can also utilize CSS grid or flexbox.

7. What are some best practices for using CSS tables in web design?

The use of semantic markup to make the table more accessible, avoiding nested tables to enhance performance, and utilizing uniform styling throughout the table are some best practices for using CSS tables in web design. To make sure the table appears good and works properly, it’s also crucial to test it on various gadgets and screen sizes.

8. How can I create alternating row colors in a CSS table?

With the:nth-child pseudo-class, you may make a CSS table with alternate row colors. For instance, by using the selectors:nth-child(odd) or:nth-child(even) to target the odd or even rows, you can change the background color of every other row to a new color.

9. Can I use CSS tables to create complex layouts, or are they only for displaying tabular data?

CSS tables can be used to build intricate layouts even if their primary purpose is to display tabular data. However, CSS grid or flexbox, which allow more flexibility over the layout, may be better appropriate for more complicated layouts.

10. How can I add borders to a CSS table, and can I customize the border style and color?

By adding border properties to the table, row, or cell elements in a CSS table, borders can be added. With CSS properties like border-style, border-width, and border-color, you may change the border style, width, and color. With the border-top, border-bottom, border-left, and border-right properties, you may additionally apply borders to particular sides of the table, such as only the top and bottom or just the left and right sides. You can use values like solid, dashed, dotted, or double to alter the border style. For a more distinctive appearance, border styles can also be created using CSS gradients or images.

Ending thoughts on how to create responsive tables

In the era of responsive design, we have to make sure that our tables behave responsively. Luckily, it is not as difficult as it may sound.

Adjusting the CSS table border and creating responsive CSS tables or HTML images and tables can give you a hard time if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, with the help of a few useful plugins and extensions, building responsive tables should be easier than ever.

wpDataTables can be the perfect solution. The best-selling plugin is already a choice of more than 40,000+ businesses online. wpDataTables can handle any complex data, be it financial, scientific, statistical, commercial, or any other information – you will get the pixel-perfect table every time. Additionally, you can check a list of 10 Best Responsive Table Plugins For WordPress, a comparison made by our friends at wp Leaders.

It is also important to check how these tables are rendering in various browsers & OS, for the same you can perform responsive testing and make sure your designs are responsive and rendering well.

If you enjoyed reading this article on responsive tables with CSS, you should check out this one about Bootstrap tables.

We also wrote about a few related subjects like HTML tables, How to center a table with CSS, table background color, CSS tables and jQuery table plugins.

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