Set a formal dinner table by dressing the table and adding guest place settings with everything needed before the entree. Use geometric precision, centering any decorations and placing individual settings equidistant from the edge and each other. Organize and hold items for the main course through the meal's end.
Dress the table by layering one or more tablecloths and any place mats and runners. Include centerpieces, candlesticks and other decorations. An individual setting revolves around the charger, a large decorative plate functioning as a platform for other plates until its removal with the delivery of the entrée or when guests remove the napkins. With the charger as the base, add a salad plate and a soup bowl and lay a rolled or folded napkin on top. If serving salad after the entrée, withhold the salad plate until later.
Align silverware with the bottom of the charger, organizing pieces by order of use inward towards the plate. Locate forks to the left of the plate, knives directly to its right with the blade inward, and spoons beside the knives. The exceptions are the butter knife, set on a small bread plate above the forks, and any dessert flatware set horizontally above the plate with spoon handles to the right and fork handles to the left. Place the water glass centered on the top of the dinner knife and wine glasses, champagne flutes and sherry glasses progressively to its right.