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How to Add a Background Image Html Table

Tables are extremely useful in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), and you can easily add a background image to a table to make it more appealing. Choose your image carefully, though, keeping color and size in mind.

You may add a background image to an entire table, a particular row, or an individual cell if you prefer, but most folks stick with one image throughout the table for a more cohesive look. The image should allow the text to be as legible as possible. A very light image with black or dark text is best, as is a dark image for light or white text. Choosing background and text colors that are similar will frustrate your visitors, and they will likely go elsewhere to avoid the eyestrain.

Choose an Image

In the HTML world, the term “image” may mean either a picture or an abstract pattern. If you want a more uniform look to your table, a repeated background pattern or texture is the way to go, but if your heart is set on a particular picture, you may use that. Just be aware that numerous tile patterns are available all over the Internet, and are made for this very purpose – to create a pleasing, continuous background design.

An excellent site that specializes in background patterns and textures is Eos Development. They feature whole collections of designs based on single ideas, plus they offer borders, bullets, buttons, and other web-friendly art.

The image can be appropriate to your subject if you so desire, but above all, your text must remain legible. No matter how proud you are of your background image, that’s all it is – a background image.

Image Size vs. Table Size

Your table and your background image will both anchor to the top-left corner, and the image always appears at its original size. Therefore, if your image is larger than your table (i.e. 600pixel x 500pixel image in a 200pixel x 200pixel table), you’ll only see the top-left portion of the image in your table.

However, if your image is smaller than your table, it will simply repeat, creating a tiled pattern that fills the entire table. While this design option might appeal to you, it’s better to use texture images that are made to tile seamlessly, resulting in one big, clean background. If you decide to use picture images in a repetitive pattern, it could still work, but you invite more of a risk of your viewer focusing on the background seams instead of your table’s contents.

Sample HTML Table

To see a sample table in action, open a basic text editor like NotePad, and type in the following code lines, exactly as written:

Sample Table

(Substitute your image name for “myimage.jpg”)

Cell 1 Cell 2 Cell 3
Cell 4 Cell 5 Cell 6
Cell 7 Cell 8 Cell 9

Don’t forget to save this file for later reference, using the “.html” extension. Pick a name that you’ll remember, like “SampleTable.html” or something similar.

Reference Your Image File

If you are creating just one page, you can keep your image file in the same folder/directory as your HTML page. This is the best way to keep your HTML code simple.

Example code where image file is in the same folder as your HTML file:

However, most professional websites are not that cut-and-dry. Many webmasters deal with multiple pages that use the same images; if you expect to be in this situation, you should keep all images in a separate folder, usually labeled “images” or some other straightforward name. Then you must add a reference to your HTML code so it “knows” where to find the image. While this is not as simple as keeping everything together, it is not insanely tough, either.

In your parent directory, you will have your HTML file, plus an “images” folder that contains the background images (and others) that you need for your site. Your HTML code will denote the folder name, then the image name, as seen here:

(Substitute your folder name for “images”)

Use Borders

Most tables use borders, which include borders between the individual cells, as well as a border around the whole table. When you take the borders out, however, this provides a cleaner “canvas” upon which your background image is seen.

Example code with border:

Example code without border:

(This is a zero, not the letter “O”)

Please be aware that borders can be as thick as you want, but are usually no more than two or three pixels wide. This is a minor point at best, but if it’s important to you, try it out and find your preference.

Check Your Work

With two windows open (your text editor and your actual HTML file), you should go between both as you work to make sure it looks the way you want: After changing your code in the text editor window, save the change, then refresh your HTML window. You will then see the results of your last change.

If you don’t like the way your table looks for any reason, you can always continue editing. Not only does this practice allow you to preview your results as you move towards your final result, but it also lessens the risk of losing your work by saving frequently.

Further Reading and Other Options

To learn more about HTML tables and how you can manipulate them, go to W3schools.com. They feature interactive examples that are great for hands-on learning. Also remember that you can use a background color instead of an image.

If you want to perform more complex operations, such as inserting the same image in multiple tables, consider using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). CSS eliminates numerous redundant keystrokes, making maintenance relatively easy for websites with many pages, or pages with many tables.

HTML code should be checked constantly during the building process, but when you’re done, it will render your table and your entire page exactly the way you envisioned it. When used correctly, background images can add subtle color, design, and texture without taking away from your table’s main message.

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