Learning how to properly set the table sets the stage for any meal whether casual or somewhat formal. The key to an ideal table setup is arranging the cutlery around the plate in a specific order.

Basic Place Setting

Plates The simplest place setting begins with items typically used at any meal requiring a plate. A plate goes in the center of the place setting, approximately 1 inch from the edge of the table.

Forks On the left of the plate, place the dinner fork -- the fork used to eat the meal. If the meal also includes a salad, place a salad fork, which is slightly smaller than the dinner fork, to the left of the dinner fork.

Napkins Set a napkin to the left of the forks.

Knifes On the right side of the plate, arrange a knife with the blade facing the plate.

Spoons A spoon goes to the left of the knife. Line up the bottoms of the handles of the cutlery on each side of the plate for a nice, consistent place setting.

Glasses Place a water glass above the blade of the knife.

Add-on Elements

Bread Plate If the meal includes bread or a roll and butter, set a bread plate above the fork, with a butter knife horizontally across the plate, its blade facing down and to the left.

Extra Glasses If wine, juice or another cold beverage is served along with water, place the second glass to the right of the first.

Cups When serving hot coffee or tea during the meal -- not just during dessert -- position the glassware farther up above the plate, setting the cup and saucer above the knife and spoon.

Soup Bowls Add a soup bowl to the top of the dinner plate if soup is part of the meal. Place the soup spoon to the right of the beverage spoon.