The purpose of a table is to structure,
and present factual data that a user will need to look up or reference. There
are two general purpose table types in DITA:
Types of tables
There are two different types of general purpose tables in DITA, table and simpletable, both of which are based on the CALS table model standard.
Working with tables
Tables should be used for storing tabular information, and not to achieve formatting outcomes.
The keycol and refcols attributes
The keycol and refcols attributes are used to control the way in which choicetable, simpletable and properties tables are processed to a reading format. The keycol attribute nominates which column is used for row headings, while refcols nominates which columns will be automatically linked (although this functionality is not yet implemented in all publishing tools).
Column and row headers
Information in tables is most often arranged in columns, although some tables are arranged into rows, and complex tables into both rows and columns. Column headings are defined using the thead element, and row headings with the rowheader attribute on the table element or the keycol attribute on the simpletable element.
Simple tables can be inserted within a cell of an existing table to create complex nested tables. However, you should not use such complex tables.