Creating tables in Emacs

by Ruslan Spivak on October 1, 2007

Sometimes I need to create tables in Emacs as it was in post describing comparison and arithmetic operations in Python and Erlang.

Over time I became aware of several means to create tables and export them in different formats in Emacs(at the moment I’m personally interested in plain ASCII and HTML):

  1. Excellent org-mode has built-in table editor which allows easily format tables in plain ASCII
  2. table.el with its advanced ability to construct table layout

Both modes (technically though Table mode in table.el is not mode) are part of modern Emacs and both allow export table in HTML format.

To quickly create tables personally I prefer table.el which provides also following features:

  1. A cell can be split horizontally and vertically.
  2. A cell can span into an adjacent cell.

Use C-h b in table to get self-descriptive information about table.el key bindings. In contrast to org-mode(or its orgtbl-mode minor mode) table.el has no special bindings to copy row/cell and yank it. But this is easily achieved by using usual region commands for rows and rectangular commands for cells.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

demokrito February 25, 2011 at 5:26 PM

I use combination of org-mode tables and gpg encrypting to store my passwords. The filename is This is better than any password manager (=


Ruslan Spivak February 25, 2011 at 8:09 PM

So true. These days I also use org-mode tables + GPG to hold any sensitive information.


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