I'm looking for input on how to make this table better:

"Day of Mercury" table

Questions I'm wondering about:

  1. How can I reconcile the long headings for columns 1-3 with their short content?

  2. What should the alignment of the header and body cell content look like?

  3. How can I help the reader better discern the column-spanning heading "Day of Mercury" with the individual column titles? I was thinking of a nice classy ruler line.

  4. Would you choose a list (bullet or no bullets?) for the meanings (content of columns 4-6 or keep it as comma-separated prose, or make it something entirely different?

Note: the final table will have 24 rows (hours).

1 Answer 1


Start with some simple rules of typography. Adding a hierarchy will make a huge difference so play around with the font size, then think about the typefaces weight and maybe look at the letter case. You can start playing with some colours to provide emphasis (both the background and the text).

Then take a look at the leading/ line spacing for the type as well as the tracking. Basically this is how far apart the letter and words are spaces. The more breathing room you give text, especially in tables, the better. Tables should be about readability over anything else.

Once those fundamentals are in place then you can start having fun! Maybe look at some relevant iconography for the ruler columns (check out https://thenounproject.com/)

Using bullets isn't necessary unless there are multiple lists within each table cell.

Starting point for table design

  • Wow, that looks really good, thank you. I especially like the negative space in the cells. Also thanks for the iconography idea and link. Way to go! Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 23:30
  • A pleasure. These principles principles are a great starting point for any document you produce. Normally I would use more contrasting colours but it's a case by case choice. Iconography has been massively overused in my opinion but they would be a nice addition here.
    – dotschko
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 14:43

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