You searched through the editing menu, switched between the text and visual tabs, and you just couldn’t find the option to do it. All these years using WordPress, you always assumed that this standard tool was there. Your common sense said it should be there.
But it wasn’t.
Seriously? The most popular CMS in the world, and it doesn’t have the option to create a table?
Fortunately, playing in the WordPress environment means that there’s always a plugin or two for everything.
The Usual Suspect
The most common way to insert a table in WordPress is to “unlock” the more advanced editing options using a plugin. The most common plugin that people use is TinyMCE Advanced. You can download and install the plugin via “Plugins -> Add New” inside your WordPress admin area.
Upon installation, you will notice that your WordPress editing menu becomes more advanced with additional menus and editing options. One of the new abilities is to insert a table.
But, as you can see from the image below, the added table is just simple rows and columns, placeholders for your content.
If you are fine with it, by all means use TinyMCE Advanced to handle your table needs. But to be able to insert more sophisticated, feature-rich, and easy-on-the-eyes tables, you need TablePress.
This plugin is also available from the WordPress plugins repository. A quick search and two button clicks are all you need to start using TablePress.
But using TablePress is a little bit different than using TinyMCE options. Instead of inserting a table and filling in the content inside your posts or pages, TablePress requires you to create a table beforehand and insert it using a shortcode.
The main advantage of taking this route is that you can update your table without the need to edit your posts or pages.
To create or modify the tables, use the “TablePress” menu on the sidebar of your WordPress admin area. The first thing that you’ll see is the list of all available tables. If you haven’t created a table yet, you can start by adding or importing one.
There are several tabs available, each related to its functions. They are “Add New,” “Import,” “Export,” “Plugin Options” and “About.”
What makes TablePress extremely useful is its ability to import and export tables. So if you’ve already created spreadsheets, you don’t need to re-create it in WordPress. And the opposite is true: the tables that you’ve compiled in your TablePress can be re-used outside WordPress.
Creating and Inserting a Table
To create a table, click the “Add New” tab, fill in the table’s name and description, and decide how many rows and columns that you want on the table.
After clicking the “Add Table” button, you will get the shortcode with table id. This is the code that you want to insert in your post or page.
You can insert the content of the table and customize it further using the options available under the table.
After everything is done, scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit “Save Changes.” You can also copy, export, or delete the table if you want to.
Then copy the shortcode of the table, and insert it in the post or page where you want the table to appear.
TablePress comes with a base design that looks so much better than the barebone table of TinyMCE. You can improve it further by using CSS styling. If you don’t use CSS styling to adjust the look and feel of your table, its appearance will rely heavily on the design of the theme that you use. Here’s what the result looks like on a real post.
While the look alone is already enough to win you over, TablePress comes with a few extras out of the box. If you notice the “Result” image above, you can see the “Show 10 Entries” above the table on the left. Your visitors can use this drop-down option to set how many rows they want to see.
There’s also a “Search Box” on the top-right side of the table and the “Previous/Next” button on the lower-right. And as if they’re not enough, visitors can also do ascending/descending “sorting” of an individual row.
Another extra feature that would be very useful for office workers is the ability to use “formulas” inside the table like you normally do in spreadsheet applications.
There are tons of other features that this plugin supports, and you can explore to discover them and fully utilize all the features. But TablePress is already more than enough to satisfy everyday WordPress users even without any additional tweakings.
While most normal WordPress users might not ever need to use tables in the content creation, you’ll be glad to know that TablePress is there to cover your back when you do.