Place Setting Etiquette: The Essential Rules You Need to Know


Place setting etiquette describes how cutlery, glassware, plates and napkins should be laid out. It helps the host know where to place the eating utensils so that the diner has everything within reach and knowledge of this etiquette is useful for even the most informal of family dinners.

Place setting gets more complicated the more additional courses are served, but if you follow just a few simple rules then it should be easy to set your table for any number of courses. Remember that everything should be placed an even distance apart; always strive for balance and symmetry in your place setting.

The table is the central focus of every dinner party, so make sure your place setting is worthy of the delicious food you will serve by following these simple rules:


Forks are always placed to the left, and knives to the right with their blades facing inwards, towards the plate. You should always work from the outside inwards, so use the knife and fork on the extreme outside for the first course, working your way inwards for each course that follows. Soup spoons are always placed on the right and their position is determined by whether soup is being served as a first or second course. Dessert cutlery is placed at the top, above the plate. The fork faces the right, and the spoon lies above it facing the left.


The water glass lies directly above the knife. All other glasses are placed to the right of the water glass, in the order in which they will be drunk.

Plates and Napkins

The base plate is placed in the middle of the cutlery. The first course dish may be placed on top of it, and it may then be taken away as the first course is cleared. The side plate lies above the forks, with the side knife laid across it. The napkin may be placed folded on top of the base plate, to the left of the forks, or on the side plate.

Now that you know the essential rules for setting a dinner table, you can browse a great selection of dinner sets, find beautiful table decorations and impress your friends and family.

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