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HTML, CSS and Tables: The Beauty of Data


Assistive technology gags when it encounters HTML tables coded by the old school methods. Using the new coding lets you make tables more accessible to your users, and it really isn't that much harder--just remember what a table really is. Chris Heilmann reminds us, and gives an introduction to CSS.

Author Info:
By: Chris Heilmann
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 97
November 17, 2004
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · HTML, CSS and Tables: The Beauty of Data
  2. · What is a table?
  3. · W3C to the rescue
  4. · Summary needed
  5. · Styling tables: the days of the spacer GIF
  6. · Embracing CSS and separating "what is what" and "what it looks like"
  7. · Our CSS

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HTML, CSS and Tables: The Beauty of Data - Summary needed
(Page 4 of 7 )

A fully accessible table also needs a summary. Furthermore it is helpful to add a caption and structure the table into a THEAD and TBODY and TFOOT:

<table summary="This table lists all the flights by XYZ Air leaving London today.">
  <caption>Flight Schedule</caption>
  <thead>
    <tr>

       <th scope="col">Flight Number:</th> 
      <th scope="col">From:</th> 
      <th scope="col">To:</th> 
      <th scope="col">Departure:</th> 
      <th scope="col">Arrival:</th> 
    </tr>

  </thead>
  <tfoot>
    <tr>
      <td colspan="5">Total: 3 flights</td>
    </tr>

  </tfoot>
  <tbody>
  <tr>
    <th scope="row">BA 3451</th>
    <td>Heathrow</td>

    <td>Nuremberg</td>
    <td>19:20</td>
    <td>19:50</td>
  </tr>

  <tr>
    <th scope="row">BA 1254</th>
    <td>Luton</td>
    <td>Alicante</td>

    <td>19:40</td>
    <td>20:50</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <th scope="row">LH 331</th>

    <td>Heathrow</td>
    <td>Hamburg</td>
    <td>20:00</td>
    <td>20:20</td>

  </tr>
  </tbody>
</table>

The browser does not render all of these attributes, though:

Flight Schedule
Flight Number:From:To:Departure:Arrival:
Total: 3 flights
BA 3451HeathrowNuremberg19:2019:50
BA 1254LutonAlicante19:4020:50
LH 331HeathrowHamburg20:0020:20

Notice that TFOOT must appear immediately after THEAD and before the first TBODY.

Now that we have the HTML skeleton, let's paint it and turn it into something like this:

Example of a styled table


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