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table manners introduction

Table Manners 101: Essential Dining Etiquette

Table manners are fundamental to every public dining situation. And every essential skill has to be built on a solid knowledge base. That's what table manners 101 provides. If you've realized that dining is about more than just consuming calories, you probably understand why dining etiquette is so important.

After you've finished studying the basic table manners guide, you can learn the proper technique for eating everything from artichokes to watermelon; deal with challenging dining situations; read through our 100+ table manner tips; or find out what behavior to avoid at the table.

Serving Etiquette

dinner service

Most comprehensive guidelines for formal and informal dinner service.

International Dining Etiquette

globe cake

Our international dining etiquette section makes learning the dining etiquette rules of over 150 countries a piece of cake!

Informal Place Setting - Dining Etiquette

Review this informal place setting diagram in conjunction with the table manners section. What you see below is what you would encounter at an informal dinner. Informal settings are used in 99% of restaurants you will dine at - even the expensive ones. At an informal dinner, the salad fork will be to the left of the dinner fork.

informal place setting

The general rule is "outside in". If you do not know what fork to use with the course you have just been served, start with the fork farthest from your plate. In this case, the salad fork. The same rule applies for spoons and knives.


Welcome to Etiquette Scholar's dining etiquette web site! Plan your next dinner party, prepare for a business lunch, give a great toast, leave a proper tip for your waiter, be a gracious dinner guest in a Mozambique home, or order a great bottle of wine in a restaurant. It's all at your fingertips!

Business Dining Etiquette

Dining etiquette might be more important to your career success than you think. On a given day, a business professional may need to know how to seat important business guests at a table, how to make group introductions, or how to carry on appropriate conversations at a business lunch.

Dinner Party Etiquette

Read our dinner party etiquette guide to help you plan and host the perfect dinner party.

Invitation Etiquette

Offering an invitation to dinner can be more complex than simply picking up the phone. The occasion may call for formal invitation cards. Or maybe an email will do just fine. And business meal invitations have there own set of rules. Our invitation etiquette guides will walk you through the invitation process step-by-step.

When to Toast?

The first toast given during a dinner is normally offered at the beginning of the meal. Traditionally, the first toast is offered by the host as a welcome to guests. Toasts offered by others start during the dessert course. Toasts don't need to be limited to meals or special events. Spontaneous toasts are in order whenever they seem appropriate, as when someone raises his glass and offers good wishes or congratulations to his companions. Visit our toasting etiquette section for more etiquette tips and to scan our hundreds of toast examples.

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