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Refine Your Dining Etiquette With This Silverware Placement Guide

Veena Aruldass Oct 08, 2018
Silverware has a charm that no other cutlery can match. It adds a feel of grandiose and accentuates the dining experience. Let's see its placement, to make that evening with friends and loved ones, perfect.
If you have exquisite silverware, you need to remember that presentation is the key. Present your food in a manner that makes it appear more attractive and delicious.
Placing your silverware elegantly is not a difficult task. Lack of correct placement not only robs the visual aspect of its charm, but may also be a cause of embarrassment for you and your guests.
The cutlery needs to be arranged on both sides of the plate. It should be arranged in the order of its usage, with the kitchen cutlery on the outside, since it will be used first. Doing so will give the guests an idea of what will be served, when. 
The forks are always to be kept on the left side of the plate, with the spoons and knives on the right side. It is important to note that the sharp edge of the knife should always be kept turned inward, facing the plate. Here's an illustration that will help you in setting up your table:
1: Napkin
2: Salad Fork
3: Dinner Fork
4: Dinner Plate
5: Dinner Knife
6: Teaspoon
7: Soup Spoon
8: Cocktail Fork
9: Coffee Saucer
10: Wine Glass (White)
11: Wine Glass (Red)
12: Water Glass
13: Dessert Fork & Spoon
14: Bread & Butter Plate with Spreader


The napkin is generally placed on top of the dinner plate. However, while serving food, it is placed to the extreme left of the plate. The napkin has to be folded or put in a napkin ring. Sometimes, it is also placed beneath the forks. 
For formal dinners, cloth napkins are preferred, while paper napkins can be used for casual gatherings. Before having your meal, you should unfold the napkin and place it on your lap. After finishing your meal, you should loosely fold the napkin and place it back on its position. 
The napkin color should ideally go with the color of the table cloth.

Salad Fork

The smaller fork, known as the salad fork, is placed to the left of the dinner plate. It is used for eating salad or appetizers. 
The placement of the fork is not fixed. It is placed to the immediate left of the dinner plate if the salad is served before the main course, or is placed to the left of the dinner fork if the salad will be served after the main course.

Dinner Fork

This fork is used for having the main course. Similar to the salad fork, the placement of the dinner fork also depends on the sequence in which dinner is to be served. 
It will be placed immediately to the left of the dinner plate if the main course is served first, else will be placed after the salad fork.

Dinner Plate

The first thing to be placed on the table is the dinner plate. The big main course plate is also called 'charger'. The place plate or the dinner plate is to be placed one inch from the edge of the dining table.

Dinner Knife

The largest knife that is placed on the table is the dinner knife. It is placed immediately to the right of the dinner plate. The cutting edge of the knife should face the plate. 
The main course decides the type of knife that is to be placed. If you are serving meat, then a steak knife should be made use of.


The teaspoon is placed immediately to the right of the dinner knife. It is used for stirring tea or eating desserts. If you are serving desserts along with the main course, then the teaspoon needs to be placed next to the dinner knife, else the soup spoon will be placed next to the dinner knife.

Soup Spoon

The soup spoon is used to eat soup, particularly the type with solid particles in it. The spoon is to be placed to the right of the teaspoon. For formal dinners, the soup spoon is used only to eat soup, but in casual dinner gatherings, it can be used to eat stew, ravioli, or even desserts!

Cocktail Fork

The only type of fork that is placed to the right of the dinner plate is the cocktail fork. It is the seafood fork that has a long handle.

Coffee Saucer & Cup

If you are serving coffee or tea along with the main course, then place the coffee cup and saucer to the right of the dinner plate. The cup is placed on the saucer, and the coffee spoon can be placed on the saucer towards the right of the cup.

Wine Glass (White)

The drinks glass placement holds a lot of importance in a table setting. The white wine glass should be placed immediately to left of the coffee cup. It has the longest stem amongst the glasses that are placed on the table.

Wine Glass (Red)

The red wine glass needs to be placed to the left of the white wine glass.

Water Glass

The water glass should be placed to the left of the red wine glass, right above the knives. While serving food, water should be served first. The position of the water glass should be such that it is easily accessible while eating.

Dessert Fork & Spoon

Generally, dessert is brought to the table after the main course is served. The dessert fork should be placed vertically above the dinner plate.

Bread & Butter Plate with Spreader

The butter plate needs to be placed on the top left side of the dinner plate. The spreader knife should be placed diagonally on the plate. The knife needs to be placed in such a manner that the handle is towards the guest.

Table Etiquette

The following pointers on table manners can be useful to avoid embarrassing situations and bring out the beauty of your treasured silverware.
  • The handles of the forks should be aligned at the bottom and tines of the fork should be placed upward to make a proper table setting.
  • Once you have finished, the knife and fork should be laid diagonally across the plate.
  • Make sure the butt end of the cutlery is angled towards your body.
  • Once you have used a piece of cutlery, never place it back on the table.
  • The edge of the butter knife should face the user and the handle should be to the right side.
A little practice in correct placement and a lot of creativity is needed to get the perfect table ready, and you can impress your guests and loved ones. A touch of elegance in placing your silverware will make a romantic meal memorable. Go ahead and enjoy a pleasant dining experience with elegant table settings, using your treasured silverware.