colspan (HTML attribute)

    Adam Roberts
    Adam Roberts


    Just as the th element uses colspans, so can the td element to allow data to be shared across numerous columns in a table. The concept is best explained by comparing the example HTML above with the below table (where we indicate a person’s availability for Tuesday—when that person is free for the whole day—by spanning the cell across four time slots). td-colspans When you’re introducing a colspan attribute, take care to ensure that each row is equivalent to the number of cells that would ordinary appear in the row. Some tables can become quite complicated with a mixture of colspan
    and rowspan attributes, and this is not something that you’re advised to hand-code—that’s just asking for trouble! It’s much better to use a WYSIWYG editor, such as Dreamweaver, MS Expression, or something similar, which will allow you to merge and unmerge cells very easily, and takes care of these attributes for you. Note that when you use the rowspan attribute, you can’t span a cell beyond the boundary of its containing rowgroup (namely the thead, tfoot, or tbody
    elements). So if the tbody comprises ten rows, the rowspan of a cell that’s defined in the first row can’t have a value greater than “10”.


    This example shows an extract from a calendar, with a person’s availability apparently spanning the whole day, as shown in the above table:

      <th scope="row">Tue</th>
      <td colspan="4">Free</td>


    This attribute takes a number, which should equal the number of cells that this single td should replace. There’s also a special value of "0", which should inform the browser to span the cell to the end of the current group of columns.

    Frequently Asked Questions about HTML Colspan Attribute

    What is the HTML Colspan attribute and why is it important?

    The HTML Colspan attribute is a crucial tool in web development. It is used within the HTML table model to specify how many columns a cell should span across. This attribute is important because it allows developers to create complex table structures, merge cells horizontally, and design more visually appealing and organized tables. Without the Colspan attribute, creating such layouts would be a challenging task.

    How do I use the HTML Colspan attribute?

    To use the HTML Colspan attribute, you need to include it within a table cell tag (either

    or ) in your HTML code. The value of the Colspan attribute determines the number of columns the cell will span. For example, would make a cell span across two columns.

    Can I use the Colspan attribute with rows?

    No, the Colspan attribute is specifically designed for columns. If you want to span cells vertically across rows, you should use the Rowspan attribute. It works similarly to Colspan but applies to rows instead of columns.

    Is there a limit to the value I can set for the Colspan attribute?

    The HTML specification does not set a limit on the value of the Colspan attribute. However, it’s important to remember that the value should not exceed the total number of columns in the table. Doing so could lead to unexpected results or errors in your table layout.

    Can I use the Colspan attribute in combination with other HTML attributes?

    Yes, you can use the Colspan attribute in combination with other HTML attributes. For instance, you can use it with the Rowspan attribute to create cells that span both rows and columns. You can also use it with style attributes to customize the appearance of your table cells.

    Does the Colspan attribute work in all browsers?

    Yes, the Colspan attribute is supported by all major web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. This ensures that your table layouts will look consistent across different platforms and devices.

    What happens if I don’t specify a Colspan attribute for a cell?

    If you don’t specify a Colspan attribute for a cell, the browser will assume a default value of 1. This means the cell will only occupy one column.

    Can I use the Colspan attribute for responsive web design?

    While the Colspan attribute can help create complex table layouts, it’s not inherently responsive. For responsive web design, you might need to use additional CSS or JavaScript techniques to ensure your tables look good on all screen sizes.

    Can I change the value of the Colspan attribute dynamically?

    Yes, you can change the value of the Colspan attribute dynamically using JavaScript. This can be useful for creating interactive table layouts that respond to user actions.

    Are there any best practices I should follow when using the Colspan attribute?

    When using the Colspan attribute, it’s important to ensure that your table structure remains clear and logical. Avoid spanning cells across too many columns as this can make your table difficult to read and understand. Also, always test your table layouts in different browsers to ensure they display correctly.