Adding tables to your WordPress posts and pages is a great way to display data and certain types of information.
Used correctly, tables can be much more effective than text, giving your readers a quick and clear way to digest information.
Some uses for tables include displaying pricing information in an easy-to-digest format or listing product features side-by-side so that they can be quickly compared.
While a basic table will typically consist of a header followed by rows and columns, more advanced tables can include images and buttons. Adding sorting, filtering, and searching capabilities to a table is also possible. In some circumstances, you might even want to display a chart based on the data in a table. Getting creative with the styling of your table, such as using colors to highlight cells is another option.
If you’re interested in adding tables to your WordPress website content, such as its posts and pages, the good news is that WordPress now includes a built-in table tool. However, while the WordPress table block is good for creating basic tables, adding more advanced options requires the installation of a plugin.
In this article, we cover how to add advanced tables to your WordPress posts and pages using the free and popular TablePress plugin. We also look at the freemium wpDataTables plugin to demonstrate how you can add charts to your WordPress website for free.
By the end of this guide, you’ll know whether the core table-building functionality of WordPress is enough for your project, or if you should install TablePress or wpDataTables, and if so, how to use them.
About the TablePress Plugin
As mentioned, WordPress now includes the functionality to add tables to your posts and pages.
While the tables you can create with the table block might be good enough for some projects, there will be situations when a more advanced tool will be required. That’s where a plugin like TablePress comes into play.
With 8 million downloads of this free plugin and more than 8 hundred thousand active installations, as well as a user rating of 5 out of 5 stars, TablePress is a popular and widely used option. It’s also regularly updated.
There are other options out there, but TablePress is a tried and tested plugin that comes highly recommended.
How to Add Advanced Tables to Your WordPress Website with TablePress
If you decide to use TablePress, here’s how you can use this plugin to add tables to your WordPress posts and pages.
1) Install a WordPress Table Plugin
As TablePress is available from the official WordPress plugin directory, it can be added to your website from inside your WordPress dashboard.
To get started, log into your WordPress dashboard. Then navigate to the Add Plugins page by clicking on the Add New item under the Plugins menu on the sidebar.
After searching for TablePress, you can click on the Install Button, followed by the Activate button.
Now you can create tables from the newly added TablePress menu on the WordPress admin dashboard sidebar menu. Any tables you create can also be managed from the same part of your dashboard.
2) Create a Table with TablePress
You can enter the details of your tables on the Add New Table screen.
First up, you’ll need to give your table a name. You can also enter a description to help you identify the table. Then it’s time to enter the number of rows and columns your table will have. You can easily change these details later if needed.
After hitting the Add Table button, you can start adding content to the table cells.
As well as entering text directly into the table cells, you can also insert images and links. There’s an advanced editor which gives you a bit more control over what you can add to the table cells, too.
The other table options let you enable alternating row colors, turn on header and footer rows, and activate cursor-activated row hover highlighting.
You can also give visitors to your site the option of sorting the table, letting them filter or search the table, and using pagination to limit the number of rows on display at a time.
If you make any changes to a table at a later date, any instances of it that you’ve published on your site will be automatically and instantly updated.
3) Publish a Table on Your WordPress Website
Once you’ve created a table, you can publish it on your website for your visitors to see. Thankfully, TablePress makes this process very straightforward.
Simply create a new page or post, or open an existing one for editing. Unfortunately, there isn’t yet a TablePress block that lets you insert a table into your content via the WordPress Editor, although this feature should be available soon. However, until then, all you need to do is copy the shortcode associated with your table, and then paste it into your post or page.
You can find and copy the shortcode from the All Tables section of the TablePress dashboard. Once you have the shortcode, which should look something like this [table id=1 /] you can paste it into your post or page.
Now, when you preview the post or view the published version, you should see the table you inserted.
If you’d like to display tables in other parts of your site that don’t support shortcodes, such as the footer or sidebar areas, you can use the template tag functions.
4) Extending TablePress
As mentioned earlier, there are a few extensions for TablePress. Some are free to use, while others are premium products.
Installing these extensions lets you do much more with the plugin, including creating charts based on the data in tables, publishing multilingual tables, and styling your tables with the Divi website builder.
That covers how to use TablePress to add advanced tables to your WordPress posts and pages.
Now it’s time to take a quick look at the freemium wpDataTables plugin.
As mentioned, there is a free extension that lets you create charts from your TablePress tables. However, it’s not very user-friendly.
Due to this, if you’d like to add charts to your WordPress website, wpDataTables is a freemium option that you should check out.
Adding Charts to Your WordPress Website
The free version of wpDataTables works in a similar way to TablePress, except that it has additional functionality that lets you create charts powered by Google Charts and Chart.js with relative ease.
However, the plugin is less widely used than TablePress and has a slightly less favorable rating from users. The interface might be a bit overwhelming for some, especially if they have no plans to upgrade to the premium version and deactivate all of the ads for the paid version that are displayed in the user interface of the plugin.
If you just want to create tables, then TablePress is the better option. However, if creating charts is a requirement, then wpDataTables has this functionality built into its core.
Creating a Chart with wpDataTables
As wpDataTables is also available from the official WordPress plugin directory, it can be installed from inside your WordPress dashboard in the same way as TablePress.
After activating the plugin, you can create a table for your chart.
However, you can only generate a chart from a table that hasn’t been created with the wpDataTables builder. This means you’ll need to use another data source for your chart. Options include an uploaded Excel spreadsheet or CSV file, as well as linking to a published Google Sheet.
Once you’ve created a table using an external data source, you can then generate a chart from that table.
From the Create a Chart screen in your WordPress dashboard, give the chart a name and choose a chart render engine. The engine you choose will dictate the types of charts you can create as well as how they will look.
The options in the free version of the plugin — Google Charts and Chart.js — cover the most common types of charts you might want to create, including line, column, pie, and bar charts.
On the next screen, you can choose the data source for the chart, such as a CSV file you upload. After that, you can configure the chart, such as choosing which columns from your source to use in the chart, whether to display a legend, and much more.
wpDataTables has a nice preview panel that lets you see how your chart will look.
Once you’re happy with the chart, you can copy its shortcode and paste it into a WordPress post or page.
When anyone views that post or page, it will display the latest version of the chart.
As you can see, wpDataTables does give you the ability to add charts to your WordPress website for free.
However, unless you upgrade to the paid version, you’ll have to create a table based on an external data source (such as a CSV file that you upload to your WordPress media library or a published Google Sheet) rather than on a table you create yourself in the WordPress dashboard.
If that isn’t a problem, then the free version of wpDataTables should meet your requirements.
TablePress is an excellent free plugin for WordPress. If you’re looking for the easiest way to add tables to WordPress posts and pages, with more functionality than what’s provided by the default WordPress Editor, TablePress comes highly recommended.
However, you can’t use the free version of TablePress to create charts. As mentioned, there is a free add-on for TablePress that lets you generate charts from your tables. However, it’s not very user-friendly or as powerful as the free version of wpDataTables when it comes to chart generation.
If you only plan to create tables, TablePress should suffice. For those that want to also create charts, you should be able to achieve your goals by using an external data source to build a table with wpDataTables, and then generate a chart from that table.
If you have any questions about this article, please leave a comment below.
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