A common diagram for a basic table setting has the plate at the center, the fork to the left of the plate, and the knife and spoon to the right. Place the napkin to the left of the fork. Bread and butter go above and to the left of the plate, while the drink goes above and to the right of the plate. Illustrated diagrams of table settings are available on the Emily Post website.
To set the table for an informal three-course dinner, set the plate at the center with the napkin on top of it. Place two forks, a dinner fork and a salad fork, to the left of the plate. Put a dinner knife to the immediate right of the plate, and then place two spoons, a soup spoon and a dessert spoon, to the right of the knife. Place any drinking glasses above the knife and spoons. Other dishes and utensils, such as a salad plate, bread plate, butter knife or coffee cup, are optional.
The placement of utensils in a table setting is based on logic. Silverware that diners use at the beginning of the meal goes on the outside to the left and right of the plate. As the meal proceeds, diners use the silverware closer to their plates.