This page covers tables that have a simple row header and a simple column header. In such tables, the relationship between the headers and data cells becomes quickly ambiguous. For such tables, use the
<th> element to identify the header cells and the
scope attribute to declare the direction of each header. The
scope attribute can be set to
col to denote that a header applies to the entire row or column, respectively.
Additionally, you can use the
<caption> element to identify the table in a document. This is particularly useful for screen-reader users browsing the web page in “table mode” where they can navigate from table to table. More background and guidance on the using
<caption> element is provided on the Caption & Summary page.
Table with header cells in the top row and first column
The following table of opening times has header information in both the top row and the first column. All header cells are marked up as
<th> cells with
scope attributes added.
In the header row, the
col value for
scope associates each header cell with the data cells in the column. In the header column, the
row value associates the individual headers with their rows. Without this information, some users would not easily understand the relationship between header and data cells. In the example below, the “Open” and “Closed” labels are only useful if they can be assigned to a particular day and time.
|09:00 - 11:00||Closed||Open||Open||Closed||Closed|
|11:00 - 13:00||Open||Open||Closed||Closed||Closed|
|13:00 - 15:00||Open||Open||Open||Closed||Closed|
|15:00 - 17:00||Closed||Closed||Closed||Open||Open|
Table with an offset column of header cells
In this table, the row header cells are in the second rather than in the first column. The approach is similar to the examples above: The scope of the header cells in the top row is set to
col. By using the
row value for
scope assigns the header cells in the second column to the data cells on the left and the right of the individual header cell.
Related WCAG resources
These tutorials provide best-practice guidance on implementing accessibility in different situations. This page combined the following WCAG success criteria and techniques from different conformance levels: