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How to Lay Cutlery

Updated February 21, 2017

Cutlery is, of course, one of the essentials of a well-laid table. There is a formula for laying cutlery, also called silverware or flatware, that has been used over time because of its relationship to the way food is served. If you want your table setting to be presented properly, place your cutlery in accord with this tried and true fashion.

Plan a menu and then figure out what cutlery your guests will need to eat the food being served. A typical menu may include a salad, followed by soup. The main course is then served. This is followed by dessert. Each guest will need a salad fork, a soup spoon, a dinner knife and fork, and a dessert spoon and fork.

Start on the left. Lay the salad fork two to three inches from the dinner plate. The dinner fork goes next; lay it between the salad fork and the dinner plate.

Place the soup spoon to the right, two to three inches from the dinner plate. Lay the dinner knife between the soup spoon and the plate. With this arrangement, your guests use their outermost cutlery first, working inward as the courses are served.

Place the dessert fork and spoon above the plate. Once the dinner plates and cutlery have been cleared away, your guests will have easy access to these before the dessert is served.

Include a small spoon if your main course requires it. This can be placed between the soup spoon and the dinner knife. If serving bread or rolls, place a butter knife across the roll plate, which is placed above and to the left of the main setting.

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About the Author

Shelly McRae is a freelance writer residing in Phoenix, Ariz. Having earned an associate degree from Glendale Community College with a major in graphic design and technical writing, she turned to online writing. McRae has written articles for multiple websites, drawing on her experience in the home improvement industry and hydroponic gardening.