Setting a Table
Large plates, such as the dinner plate and luncheon plate, are laid about 1 inch in from the edge of the table. The exception is the service plate, a capacious plate aligned flush with the edge of the table.
Small plates, such as the salad plate, fish plate, and dessert plate, are laid in the center of the cover, about 2 inches in from the edge of the table.
Cups and saucers are placed approximately 1 inch beyond the outermost piece of flatware. The top edge of the saucer is aligned with the top rim of the plate or bowl.
Cup handled are faced in a four o'clock position for easy access.
Soup bowl and soup cup handle are aligned parallel with the edge of the table.
Bread-and-butter plate are laid at the top left of the cover, usually above the dinner fork, a placement that avoids overcrowding on the right side, where the goblet and wine glass are placed.
Elbow room requires a minimum of 15 inches between place settings, or approximately 24 inches from the center of one place setting to the middle of the next.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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