The easiest way to insert a new table is to use the editing toolbar that appears when you edit a page (see image above). Clicking the button will open a dialog where you define what you want in your new table. Once you've chosen the number of rows and columns, the wiki markup text for the table is inserted into the article. Then you can replace the "Example" text with the data you want to be displayed.
Tables in Wikipedia, particularly large ones, can look intimidating to edit, but the way they work is simple.
Components of tables
Whether you've just inserted a new table, or are editing an existing one, changing the text in the table cells determines what the table looks like to a reader. But you can do more than just change text.
A table consists of the following basic elements, all of which you can modify:
|Besides beginning the table, this is also where the table's class is defined – for example,
class="wikitable". A table's "class" applies standard Wikipedia formatting to that table. The two most commonly used classes are "wikitable" and "wikitable sortable"; the latter allows the reader to sort the table by clicking on the header cell of any column.
|Required for accessibility purposes on data tables, and placed only between the table start and the first table row.
|Optional. Each header cell starts with a new line and a single exclamation mark (
!), or several header cells can be placed consecutively on the same line, separated by double exclamation marks (
|To begin a new row of cells, use a single vertical bar (
|) and a hyphen (
|To add a new cell in a row, start each new cell with a new line and a single vertical bar (
|), or several cells can be placed consecutively on the same line, separated by double vertical bars (
|To end the table, use a single vertical bar (
|) and a left facing curly brace (
}) alone on a new line.
Blank spaces at the beginning and end of a cell are ignored.
When you edit an existing table, you'll probably see one of two common ways that the table is laid out:
Data is arranged like a table
This is useful when there aren't too many columns and the cell contents are short (e.g. just numbers). This is the markup layout that the button will create.
! Header C1 !! Header C2 !! Header C3
| R1C1 || R1C2 || R1C3
| R2C1 || R2C2 || R2C3
Cells are arranged vertically
With lots of columns, or cells with long contents, putting each cell on a new line can improve readability of the markup.
! Header C1
! Header C2
! Header C3
To a reader, both of the above examples will look the same:
It is common to want to edit an existing table by adding just one extra column or row of information.
Adding a row
To add an extra row into a table, you'll need to insert an extra row break and the same number of new cells as are in the other rows.
The easiest way to do this in practice, is to duplicate an existing row by copying and pasting the markup. It's then just a matter of editing the cell contents. Make sure that you preserve the end of table markup,
|}, below the last row of the table.
Adding a column
To add an extra column to a table, you'll need to add a single extra cell in the same position to each row.
Preview your changes
Previewing your edits is especially important for tables; it is easy to make a minor error that breaks table formatting.