You can format tables using either multimarkdown syntax or HTML. You can also use jQuery datatables (a plugin) if you need more robust tables.

Estimated reading time: minutes

Multimarkdown Tables

You can use Multimarkdown syntax for tables. The following shows a sample:

| Priority apples | Second priority | Third priority |
|-------|--------|---------|
| ambrosia | gala | red delicious |
| pink lady | jazz | macintosh |
| honeycrisp | granny smith | fuji |

Result:

Priority apples Second priority Third priority
ambrosia gala red delicious
pink lady jazz macintosh
honeycrisp granny smith fuji

HTML Tables

If you need a more sophisticated table syntax, use HTML syntax for the table. Although you’re using HTML, you can use Markdown inside the table cells by adding markdown="span" as an attribute for the td tag, as shown in the following table. You can also control the column widths.

<table>
<colgroup>
<col width="30%" />
<col width="70%" />
</colgroup>
<thead>
<tr class="header">
<th>Field</th>
<th>Description</th>
</tr>
</thead>
<tbody>
<tr>
<td markdown="span">First column **fields**</td>
<td markdown="span">Some descriptive text. This is a markdown link to [Google](http://google.com). Or see [some link][mydoc_tags].</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td markdown="span">Second column **fields**</td>
<td markdown="span">Some more descriptive text.
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>

Result:

Field Description
First column fields Some descriptive text. This is a markdown link to Google. Or see some link.
Second column fields Some more descriptive text.

jQuery DataTables

You also have the option of using a jQuery DataTable, which gives you some additional capabilities. To use a jQuery DataTable in a page, include datatable: true in a page’s frontmatter. This tells the default layout to load the necessary CSS and javascript bits and to include a $(document).ready() function that initializes the DataTables library.

You can change the options used to initialize the DataTables library by editing the call to $('table.display').DataTable() in the default layout. The available options for Datatables are described in the DataTable documentation, which is excellent.

You also must add a class of display to your tables. You can change the class, but then you’ll need to change the trigger defined in the $(document).ready() function in the default layout from table.display to the class you prefer.

You can also add page-specific triggers (by copying the <script></script> block from the default layout into the page) and classes, which lets you use different options on different tables.

If you use an HTML table, adding class="display" to the <table> tag is sufficient.

Markdown, however, doesn’t allow you to add classes to tables, so you’ll need to use a trick: add <div class="datatable-begin"></div> before the table and <div class="datatable-end"></div> after the table. The default layout includes a jQuery snippet that automagically adds the display class to any table it finds between those two markers. So you can start with this (we’ve trimmed the descriptions for display):

<div class="datatable-begin"></div>

Food    | Description                           | Category | Sample type
------- | ------------------------------------- | -------- | -----------
Apples  | A small, somewhat round ...           | Fruit    | Fuji
Bananas | A long and curved, often-yellow ...   | Fruit    | Snow
Kiwis   | A small, hairy-skinned sweet ...      | Fruit    | Golden
Oranges | A spherical, orange-colored sweet ... | Fruit    | Navel

<div class="datatable-end"></div>

and get this:

Food Description Category Sample type
Apples A small, somewhat round and often red-colored, crispy fruit grown on trees. Fruit Fuji
Bananas A long and curved, often-yellow, sweet and soft fruit that grows in bunches in tropical climates. Fruit Snow
Kiwis A small, hairy-skinned sweet fruit with green-colored insides and seeds. Fruit Golden
Oranges A spherical, orange-colored sweet fruit commonly grown in Florida and California. Fruit Navel

Notice a few features:

  • You can keyword search the table. When you type a word, the table filters to match your word.
  • You can sort the column order.
  • You can page the results so that you show only a certain number of values on the first page and then require users to click next to see more entries.

Read more of the DataTable documentation to get a sense of the options you can configure. You should probably only use DataTables when you have long, massive tables full of information.

Tags: formatting
Edit me