Sometimes, administering a WordPress website can seem so easy, compared to static HTML and other prehistoric CMS. Routine tasks are so simple to implement that you tend to greet your customers' improvement requests with a smile.
However, there are certain types of requests that never fail to immediately give hives to many website designers: all those that include the word “table”.
How fragile are those little elements! A false manipulation, such as a < or > accidentally deleted, and your online page loses its beautiful geometric structure to look like the ruins of Pompeii. IT'S ALL BROKEN!
In other words, if an adventurous person asks me to add a column, he is exposed to a set of swearwords that would make Captain Haddock blush.
But this was before…
Before you discover the plugin that allows you to stay calm in all circumstances: TablePress. A plugin that allows you to create tables in WordPress without coding, and modify them with simple a Drag & Drop!
You suddenly want to add a table for your visitors to compare your price plans or your product's features? Follow me. At the end of this tutorial, you will be able to confidently add tables in WordPress using TablePress.
Overview of the article
What can TablePress do for you?
TablePress is a free plugin that allows you to simply add tables to WordPress without having to code.
Capitalizing on more than 700,000 active installations, and more than 3000 5/5-stars ratings on the official WordPress directory, there's no doubt it's the flagship extension for creating and managing your tables.
The plugin was created by Tobias Bäthge, a German WordPress developer specializing in cybernetic engineering. Being a good geek, Bäthge created TablePress in an interface similar to that of an Excel sheet.
- Is an intuitive interface, which is managed by drag and drop;
- Gives you the ability to integrate tables into your articles, pages, or text widgets using a shortcode;
- Helps you easily modify your table data, as in Excel;
- Gives you the opportunity to import and export tables in Excel, CSV, JSON and HTML formats;
- Synchronizes with Google Sheets;
- Has table cells that accept mathematical functions and formulas;
- Creates tables that can be customized through CSS.
How to get started with TablePress
Once TablePress is installed and activated, you will see a new tab with the plugin name in your WordPress administration menu.
Add a Table
To add a new table to your WordPress website, simply click on “TablePress > “Add New Table” in the administration menu, or on the “Add New” tab at the top of the TablePress interface.
To create your table, you are asked to:
- Give your table a name. If you plan on including many tables on your website, consider giving it a clear and descriptive name.
- Provide a brief description (optional). Take the time to add any information that may be useful to you later.
- Specify the number of rows and columns in your table. While the plugin allows you to easily add and remove these elements later, I recommend that you take a few moments to list the information you want to add in your table. This small step of anticipation will save you a lot of time later on.
Then click on the blue “Add Table” button at the bottom of the page. You will now access the “Edit Table” screen, where you can… well, edit your table, you know.
Edit the content and structure of a table
Scroll down the page to the “Table Content” block. This section of the page allows you to add content, by inputing or copying/pasting directly into the different cells of the table.
With the drag and drop interface, it is very easy to reorganize your rows and columns.
Enrich your tables
With TablePress, your tables can be enriched with images, links and even more complex information, such as a shortcode, thanks to its advanced editor.
- Adding an image. To add an image, it's easy. Simply scroll down to the “Table Manipulation” block and click on “Insert image”. Now simply upload an image or choose an image from your media library, before clicking on the blue “Insert into Table” button at the bottom right of the window
- Adding a link. TablePress also allows you to insert links into your table. To do this, scroll down to the “Table Manipulation” block and click on the “Insert link” button. Then click on the table cell where you want the link to appear and a pop-up window will appear, in which you can configure your link using the standard WordPress interface
- Adding enriched content. You can also insert enriched content into the cell of a table. TablePress also offers to insert content from an Advanced Editor. By using it, you can add text, with or without links, as well as images in the same cell.
To find the Advanced Editor, scroll down to the “Table Manipulation” block and click on the button with the same name. Click on the cell that should host the enriched content.
A pop-up appears in which you can set up your enriched content.
Easily modify your tables
TablePress allows easy editing of the table structure.
In the “Table Manipulation” block, you will find the different options available to add, delete, duplicate and hide rows and columns. You can also combine cells into a row or column.
To edit your table, simply click on the row or column you want to edit. Then select the appropriate function. For instance, we have chosen here below to insert a new column between two existing columns:
Once you have completed your table, don't forget to click on the “Save Changes” button. We also recommend that you do it regularly, as no automatic backup is performed.
Modify an old table
You can change the content and structure of any of the tables you have created at any time.
To find the list of existing tables, select TablePress > “All Tables” tab from your WordPress menu.
You can now choose the table you want to edit.
How to insert a table in an article or page
Now that your table is created, all you have to do is insert it into an article or page on your WordPress website.
To do this, open or create the document in which you want to publish your table. Depending on the editor you use, the insertion procedure differs slightly.
With the Gutenberg editor, copy the table's shortcode (which you find within the extension itself), and paste it into the new editor.
Let the magic happen: the shortcode block appears on its own. How practical!
If you still prefer to use the classic editor, you will simply see the TablePress icon displayed in the editor toolbar.
All you have to do is select, in the window that opens when you click, the table you want to integrate.
Easy as ABC.
Additional features to go further with TablePress
So far, this tutorial has given you the basics you need to create and update tables in WordPress without having to code. You can also add some very useful additional features.
Once you have mastered the basics, these tutorials can help you implement some of the most interesting features:
- Use formulas in the cells – as in Excel
- Customize your table with CSS – this FAQ gives you all the answers you need about the possibilities of customizing your tables
Bonus: TablePress extensions
You can add even more features to TablePress thanks to a library of about twenty free or Premium extensions.
You will find on the plugin's website 19 official extensions. Here are some of the most useful ones:
- Responsive tables (Premium): to have beautiful tables, adapted to all devices (desktop, tablet and mobile). We regret that this addon is not free; it leaves a great opportunity for a potential competitor…
- Shortcode to call the content of a single cell: very useful if you want to publish some elements of a table, such as an average score, in different places on your page.
- Automatic and scheduled table import (Premium): very useful if you update your tables with an external solution such as Excel for example.
TablePress -vs- the Gutenberg table block: what should you choose?
You probably know it: the Gutenberg editor gives you the opportunity to create a specific block for tables, provided by default since WordPress 5.0.
As a result, we couldn't resist the urge to compare TablePress to this feature.
This is what the process of creating a table with the dedicated Gutenberg block looks like:
You can see how simple it is, with Gutenberg, to add or remove rows or columns, to assign a fixed width to your columns, and to integrate your content into them.
This tool, now natively integrated into WordPress, remains simplistic, but may be enough for some very basic table cases, where you just want to present data in a simple way.
Those of you who want to create more complex, reorganizable tables or benefit from features similar to Excel will therefore prefer TablePress.
Our opinion on TablePress
You have probably already understood it: I am a big TablePress fan:
- This plugin is an excellent option if you want to add advanced tables to your WordPress site.
- Thanks to its features, you will be able to quickly create elegant tables that will help you to summarize and sort data in an easy-to-read format.
- Its Excel-inspired interface allows you to go beyond the simple tables offered by the Gutenberg content editor.
- And above all, it avoids creating HTML tables and spending hours crushing code without success.
Do you use TablePress? What do you think of this flagship extension of the WordPress universe? Do you prefer the block dedicated to tables in Gutenberg?
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