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

You also have the option of using a jQuery datatable, which gives you some more options. If you want to use a jQuery datatable, then add datatable: true in a page’s frontmatter. This will load the right jQuery datatable scripts for the table on that page only (rather than loading the scripts on every page of the site.)

Also, you need to add this script to trigger the jQuery table on your page:

<script>
$(document).ready(function(){

    $('table.display').DataTable( {
        paging: true,
        stateSave: true,
        searching: true
    }
        );
});
</script>

The available options for the datable are described in the datatable documentation, which is excellent.

Additionally, you must add a class of display to your tables. (You can change the class, but then you’ll need to change the trigger above from table.display to whatever class you want to you. You might have different triggers with different options for different tables.)

Since Markdown doesn’t allow you to add classes to tables, you’ll need to use HTML for any datatables. Here’s an example:

<table id="sampleTable" class="display">
   <thead>
      <tr>
         <th>Parameter</th>
         <th>Description</th>
         <th>Type</th>
         <th>Default Value</th>
      </tr>
   </thead>
   <tbody>
      <tr>
         <td>Parameter 1</td>
         <td>Sample description
         </td>
         <td>Sample type</td>
         <td>Sample default value</td>
      </tr>
      <tr>
         <td>Parameter 2</td>
         <td>Sample description
         </td>
         <td>Sample type</td>
         <td>Sample default value</td>
      </tr>
    <tr>
       <td>Parameter 3</td>
       <td>Sample description
       </td>
       <td>Sample type</td>
       <td>Sample default value</td>
    </tr>
      <tr>
         <td>Parameter 4</td>
         <td>Sample description
         </td>
         <td>Sample type</td>
         <td>Sample default value</td>
      </tr>
   </tbody>
</table>

This renders to the following:

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