Everything you need to know about adding tables to WordPress

Updated April 6, 2023

WordPress table plugins offer a convenient method for adding tables to WordPress sites without using HTML tables. Whether this is in a post, a page, or even more complex implementations such as a WooCommerce store, these plugins let your visitors quickly navigate large amounts of information and, importantly, find what they’re looking for quickly.

We'll cover everything you need to know about adding tables to your WordPress site, like:

  • How to add a table to a post. 
  • Dynamically creating tables that list information from the WordPress database, such as your latest blog posts, documents, audio files, or WooCommerce products. 
  • How to customize your table columns, add a search box and filters, and much more.

Even if you don't have any experience with WordPress tables, don't worry! We'll provide you with step-by-step tutorials to help you navigate the world of WordPress table plugins. You can read our WP hosting guide to get started.

Throughout this tutorial, we'll explore the various WordPress table plugins available on the market, but we'll focus on one in particular: Posts Table Pro. This plugin is highly innovative because you don’t have to spend time adding data to your tables manually. Instead, it creates them based on information that is already stored on your WordPress website!

Whether you're a blogger, running an e-commerce site, or anything in between, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to create engaging and dynamic WordPress tables for your site. So, let's get started!

Create your own unique and tailored table on your WordPress site today!

What are WordPress tables?

table built with posts table pro

WordPress tables are visual representations of data that can be organized in a number of rows and columns within a website. They are commonly used to present information in a clear and organized manner, making it easier for website visitors to understand and analyze. WordPress tables can be used for a variety of purposes, including searchable databases, product comparisons, pricing tables, event schedules, and more.

WordPress tables can be created manually using HTML and CSS, but this requires a significant amount of coding knowledge. Alternatively, there are numerous WordPress Table plugins available that allow users to create tables using a simple drag-and-drop interface without any coding knowledge required.

What are the common uses of WordPress tables

WordPress tables have a wide range of uses, including:

  1. Displaying data: WordPress tables can be used to display any kind of data, from sports scores to survey results. This can be helpful for organizations or individuals who need to present data in an easy-to-read format.
  2. Creating directories: WordPress tables can be used to create directories of businesses, organizations, or people. This can be helpful for local communities or niche industries.
  3. Listing resources: WordPress tables can be used to create resource lists, such as recommended books, tools, or websites. This can be especially helpful for bloggers or content creators who want to provide value to their readers.
  4. Displaying pricing tables: Pricing tables are an essential feature for any business that sells products or services. A well-designed pricing table can help customers compare different plans or packages and make informed decisions.
  5. Creating event schedules: WordPress tables can be used to create event schedules for conferences, festivals, and other events. This can be especially helpful for attendees who want to plan their itinerary ahead of time.
  6. Document libraries: A table layout is also an excellent way to present documents because users can quickly search, sort, and filter the table to find items in the document library.
  7. Showcasing product comparisons: Product comparison tables are a great way to help customers make informed decisions when shopping online. By presenting product features side-by-side, customers can quickly see which product best suits their needs.

How to add table in WordPress site?

Adding tables to your WordPress site can be tricky. One option is to manually create a table, but this is not recommended due to the limitations of customization and responsiveness. Here are some of the best ways how to add table in WordPress site:

  • Use a static WordPress table plugin: A static table plugin can make the process of creating and adding tables to your WordPress site much easier. With a plugin, you can create customizable tables with various formatting table options and ensure that they are responsive on any device.
  • Use a dynamic WordPress table plugin: This option creates stylish tables like a static table plugin. However, a dynamic plugin creates tables automatically using information already stored in your WordPress database. You save time as you don’t need to add or update the tables manually. They also come with extra features like searching, sorting, and filtering to help customers to find information in the table.
  • Use Google Sheets or Excel: You can create a table in Google Sheets or Excel and then paste it into WordPress. This method is simple and effective. However, you won't be able to customize or edit table formatting once it's in WordPress, and the table may not be responsive on mobile devices.
  • Use an online table builder tool: Online table builder tools allow you to create tables with various formatting options and then export them as HTML code. You can then paste this code into your WordPress site.
  • Use the Gutenberg block editor: The table block in Gutenberg editor allows you to create tables within WordPress. This method is simple and effective, but it comes with limited customization options like the tables in other page builder plugins. You also have to add all the data to the tables manually.
  • Use custom HTML code: If you have coding experience, you can create table WordPress using custom HTML code. This method gives you complete control over the formatting and customization of the table, but it requires more technical knowledge.

Adding tables to your WordPress site can be challenging especially for beginners. By using a table plugin, you can create a custom table in WordPress that are responsive and look great on any device.

Top WordPress table plugins (free, basic, and advanced)

Basic WordPress table plugins are something you’ve probably seen before. At its most basic level, one of these will let you add a table to a WordPress post or page. This will, obviously, have all the advantages of a simple table: it allows visitors to view a large amount of information in one place.

A basic plugin will let you create a table WordPress that can be added to posts, pages, or widgets. Furthermore, the data entry will be very similar to a spreadsheet; you’ll create the table in WordPress and then need to enter the data manually, or import it from an existing spreadsheet into table cells. However, they don’t support any advanced or time-saving functionality like automated data entry.

The most popular basic table plugin

The most popular basic WordPress table plugin is TablePress, a free plugin that has hundreds of thousands of installations. You can extend its core functionality using paid extensions. The TablePress plugin will let you create a table WordPress that can be sorted by contents. You can add extra features such as links, images added, and pagination for large tables.

How to use TablePress to create tables

Once you install the plugin, it will add an extra menu item - TablePress - to your WordPress Dashboard, allowing you to create and manage your tables. You can Add New to create a table in WordPress from scratch, or Import to create your table from an existing file (like Google Sheets or a CSV file). For example, let's say you wanted to create a pricing table:

Screenshot of the TablePress manual table creation

Once your pricing table data is added, you can use the Table Content section to edit data displays, the Table Manipulation section to control how the data displays and the Table Information section will show the shortcode (such as [table id=1 /]) which can be pasted into a WordPress post, page, or text widget, in order to display the table on your site. At the bottom of the page, you can control if your table is sortable.

Showing your new table on the front end of your WordPress site is straightforward: copy the shortcode, and paste it into the post, page, or sidebar widget you want it to display. The pricing table in WordPress might look something like this:

Demo of the TablePress, one of the basic WordPress table plugins

You can now show off your table to visitors! If you need to update any of the data, return to the TablePress options, select your table, make the changes, and then save.

Limitations of basic WordPress table plugins

There are several other WordPress table plugins available, including wpDataTables (pro version supports drag and drop table builder), Advanced Tables, and UltimateTables (free version). All of these work in broadly the same way and have the same functionality limitations as TablePress.

Generally, you need to manually enter and update data, and extra features such as links to other content are possible but frustrating, time-consuming, and tedious to do in practice. You can import data from Google Sheets or Excel for most of these, but bear in mind you'll have to export to a CSV file rather than copy and paste the content directly. For most of these plugins, you can't export data, export tables, or work with, say, Excel files directly.

To tackle these limitations, you’ll need to turn to a more innovative solution. This is precisely what we’ll look at next.

Best WordPress table plugin: dynamically generating WordPress tables with Posts Table Pro

Posts Table Pro is an innovative improvement to WordPress create tables plugins. It is the best table plugin because it lets you dynamically use information already on your WordPress site. This could be posts, pages, products (from any e-commerce plugin), documents, upcoming events (from any events plugin), portfolio items, and literally anything else.

Posts Table Pro also comes with formatting options that enable you to customize and edit table background color, font, spacing, and design. You can even create comparison tables and pricing tables or display a league table!

If you have your table data stored as a post or custom post type in WordPress, Posts Table Pro can automatically create a sortable table for you. This function makes it incredibly easy for you – as there’s no data entry, no data to ever update, and everything happens automatically. It's also incredibly easy for your visitors, as they’ll be able to quickly find what they’re looking for in an always-up-to-date, sortable, searchable, and responsive table that looks great on mobile devices.

Improve your WordPress site's user experience with custom post type tables from Posts Table Pro

Custom post types are WordPress’ way of storing data: plugins such as WooCommerce, The Events Calendar, and advanced plugins such as Easy Post Types and Fields (which lets you create custom data setups), all create custom post types. Technically, any WordPress post or page is a custom post type too; essentially any kind of content stored in WordPress is probably a custom post type.

As Posts Table Pro can dynamically create tables from any custom post type, this makes it incredibly powerful.

WordPress table plugin

In addition to all this, Posts Table Pro comes with a ton of premium features. These include superb styling (no HTML code or custom CSS needed), easy linking to content used to generate the table (this makes it perfect for creating libraries and databases like a simple MySQL table), lazy loading for faster load times, and advanced data table builder from WordPress posts (as mentioned), and also custom post types. You'll get user-friendly tables that make it easy for your visitors to quickly find the information they need.

As you can see in the example above, for example, it's possible to filter by categories or tags using the dropdown menu, and you can see how the alternative styling and formatting on the table rows make it easy to see the content.

Create your own unique and tailored table on your WordPress site today!

How to automatically create WordPress tables using Posts Table Pro

As you’d expect, automatically creating your own table with Posts Table Pro is easy :) You’ll need to get the plugin here, and then download it from your Barn2 account. Head to PluginsAdd NewUpload plugin, and then select the ZIP file you just downloaded. After uploading, click on the Activate button. The next step will be to enter your license key, which will be prompted by the automatic opening of the Posts Table Pro setup wizard.

Upon installing the plugin, a setup wizard will automatically appear to guide you through creating your initial table. Additionally, you can create new tables whenever you desire by navigating to Post Tables → Add New. The following directions will detail each stage of the table creation process.

Step 1: Name and Post Type

Give your table a name for internal use, which will appear in the list of tables in the WordPress admin. Then, choose the post type you want to display. If you don't have a content type, you can easily create one using the free Easy Post Types and Fields plugin. Just click on the "Create a new post type" link to start.

Step 2: Choose posts

Select which posts or pages to include in your table. The available options on this page will depend on the post type you selected on the previous page. For example, if your post type has any custom taxonomies, they will also be listed.

Step 3: Customize table columns

Customize columns in WordPress table plugin

Customize the columns you want to display in your table by selecting which columns to add and in what order. For instance, if you're creating a blog website, you may want to include details like:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Date publish

To add a column, choose the column type from the dropdown menu and click "Add." The added columns will appear in the list of columns above, and you can reorder them by dragging and dropping the sort icon or column title. You can also click the pencil icon to rename a column or use the toggle to hide the column name completely. To remove a column, click the X icon next to it.

Step 4: Add filters

WordPress table builder plugin with filters

To help users refine their selections, add filters to your table. Filters appear as dropdown menus above the table, and you can add as many as you like. The available filter options will vary depending on the post type selected on the first page. For example, you can add filters for categories and tags.

Step 5: Enable lazy loading

If your table includes hundreds or thousands of items, enable lazy loading to ensure optimal performance. However, using lazy load has some implications, so make sure you understand how it works before enabling it.

Step 6: Choose sorting options

Customize the sorting options for your table. You can set the default sorting option and the sort direction.

Step 7: Finished!

Once you've completed creating your table with the Post Table Pro plugin, the setup wizard will confirm that you're finished and provide instructions for inserting the table onto your WordPress site. You can choose to use the "Post Table" block in the Gutenberg editor or copy the shortcode from the table builder and paste it anywhere on your site, giving you the flexibility to place the table on any page regardless of its content.

Posts Table Pro, an auto generating WordPress table plugin

Advanced usage: creating document libraries, events calendars, and more with Posts Table Pro

The most exciting thing about Posts Table Pro is its flexibility means you can use it to create WordPress tables in all sorts of scenarios and for all sorts of advanced usages. In this section, we’ll share some of our favorite advanced usages for our advanced WordPress table plugin.

We often find the best ideas for using Posts Table Pro come from our customers putting the plugin into practice on their website, so if you don’t see a usage that strikes you as something you need in this list, we’ve included a couple of real-world case studies which might provide the spark of inspiration you need.

Top five advanced Posts Table Pro usages

WordPress table plugin Posts Table Pro

Below we've listed our top five advanced usages for Posts Table Pro:

  1. WordPress Document Library: This presents a library of your documents in a file-manager style format, which makes it easy for you to create a knowledge base, publications database, or share files. Posts Table Pro makes it easy to add any extra options you need to your document libraries, such as download links, file types or sizes, or any custom metadata.
  2. Events table or calendar: You can easily create a sortable calendar to list upcoming events on your WordPress site. This is ideal for websites with a large number of events or where visitors need to search for specific events.
  3. Member directory: You can create a sortable member directory that can be used internally or externally. Visitors can click on each member to read more about them as members are added as custom post types.
  4. Library of audio files: This lets you embed audio files in a filterable and sortable table. Whether you’re previewing album tracks or audio recordings, Posts Table Pro makes it easy for you to add all the information a visitor needs to see, and for the visitor to quickly find what they need.
  5. Library of videos: This lets you create a grid of embedded videos, which can be filtered and sorted for the convenience of your visitors. If you’ve got a large number of videos, such as for a conference, this is perfect for you.

These are, of course, only a selection of what you can do with Posts Table Pro. You’ll find more detailed tutorials under our WordPress tutorials category :)

Case study: see Posts Table Pro used to make a sortable list of a large number of products

It’s easier, of course, to imagine how these implementations of Posts Table Pro would look on your site when you can actually see a real-world example. Here’s one from Dr. Claudia Welch, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, and author of several books and courses. She teaches a lot and has created a wealth of courses that are for sale on her website.

Dr. Welch found that some students prefer to buy individual chapters from her courses, rather than the full thing. This means she offers a lot of different products – 46 to be precise. Dr. Welch’s website uses Posts Table Pro to list all of these courses, sortable by name, category, and price. Visitors can click on any of the courses to find out more information and buy them if they wish.

If Dr. Welch didn't have Posts Table Pro, the site would have a large number of individual products available with no easy way to navigate them. Browsing through a traditional archive would slow down the process, and creating a table manually would not be sortable and require updating for every new product added.

Posts Table Pro makes it simple to dynamically generate a sortable table that displays all of Dr. Welch’s courses. Easy for visitors, and easy to maintain. This is a great case study of how Posts Table Pro can make a website better for everyone :)

Create your own unique and tailored table on your WordPress site today!

Helping customers navigate your WooCommerce store with WooCommerce Product Table

WooCommerce users can take things one step further with WooCommerce Product Table. WooCommerce Product Table is purpose-built for the world’s best e-commerce platform and automatically lists products in searchable and sortable tables.

This makes it ideal for WooCommerce stores with complex product setups, such as wholesale stores, restaurants, and any catalog or order form.

Plus, it comes with extra features specifically for WooCommerce, including stock, review listings, and add-to-cart columns. You can use the plugin with ease as it does everything automatically, and your customers can find the products they need faster. This will make it easy for them to use. The result of all of this is a store with higher conversions, more sales, and more profits :)

WooCommerce Product Table Demo

The setup process is straightforward: get the plugin here, and then download it from your Barn2 account. Head to PluginsAdd NewUpload plugin, and then select the ZIP file you just downloaded. Install, and then Activate the plugin. You can enter your license key under WooCommerceSettingsProductsProduct tables. Save changes, and then use the options to set your default WordPress table settings.

Screenshot of the WooCommerce Product Table settings

You can create your first product table by adding [product_table] to any WordPress post, page, or text widget. This will automatically generate a sortable table of contents listing your WooCommerce products like the one above. You can overwrite any of these settings by adding extra parameters to your shortcode, and creating as many tables as you and your customers need.

Troubleshooting common table issues

Even with the best WordPress table plugin, you may still encounter issues when it comes to displaying tables on your site. Here are some common table issues and how to troubleshoot them.

Tables not displaying correctly

  1. Incorrect shortcode syntax: If you’re using a shortcode to display your table and it’s not showing up properly, make sure you’ve entered the shortcode correctly. Check for any typos or missing brackets.
  2. Plugin or theme conflicts: Sometimes, conflicts with other plugins or your WordPress theme can cause tables not to display correctly. Try disabling other plugins or switching to a different theme to see if this resolves the issue.
  3. Table data formatting issues: If your table data is not displaying properly, check to make sure you’ve formatted it correctly. Ensure that you close all cells and avoid adding any unnecessary HTML code. (This won’t happen if you use a good table plugin like Posts Table Pro, which handles everything for you.)

Table performance issues

  1. Excessive data in tables: If your table has a large amount of data, it can slow down your site’s performance. Consider breaking up the table into smaller sections or using pagination to make it more manageable.
  2. Plugin or theme conflicts: As with tables not displaying correctly, conflicts with other plugins or your theme can cause performance issues with tables. Try disabling other plugins or switching to a different theme to see if this resolves the issue.
  3. Server or hosting issues: Server or hosting issues can cause slow table performance. Contact your WordPress hosting provider to see if they can help you troubleshoot the issue.

Accessibility issues with tables

  1. Lack of alternative text: If your table contains images, make sure you’ve added alternative text to them for users with visual impairments.
  2. Missing table headers: Table headers are important for users who rely on screen readers. Make sure each column has a header. Table plugins like Posts Table Pro add table headers automatically and let you customize them.
  3. Inconsistent table design: Consistent design helps users understand and navigate your table. Make sure your table is easy to read and follows a consistent design throughout.

Posts Table Pro is the best of the WordPress table plugins

Screenshot of Posts Table Pro in action

This post is your complete guide to the best WordPress table plugins. We’ve explored all your options from manual tables to auto-generated tables with advanced features.

Some of the key points for your convenience:

  • Posts Table Pro is the best WordPress table plugin. The plugin can automatically create (and update) your tables for you, saving you a huge amount of time. The plugin provides you with advanced features such as integration with a huge number of plugins, professional support, and frequent updates. We recommend this for the vast majority of sites. Plus, you don't have to add JSON, HTML, or CSS to your site and can still benefit from responsive tables.
  • WooCommerce Product Table is the best in class for WooCommerce stores. This plugin is going to automatically generate product tables for you. This increases your conversion rate – and profits. Customers love this plugin for a good reason, making it a hugely popular one! It works, and it works really well.
  • Basic WordPress table plugins aren’t ideal, as they will require manual data entry and managing multiple CSV files. They also miss advanced features. If you have to use one of these, then go for TablePress (free version) or wpDataTables (premium version).

Create your own unique and tailored table on your WordPress site today!

We also cited a number of WordPress table plugin tutorials throughout this guide; you’ll find all of these here, as well as other WordPress tutorials which can improve your WordPress site.

We’d love to hear from you next: which plugin will you choose? How are you using WordPress table plugins on your website? You can share your thoughts and input in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your tables.

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