b + d = success

Have you ever attended a lunch or dinner meeting where someone used your bread plate? Or maybe you weren’t sure which coffee cup was yours and you used the wrong one causing everyone else to use the one intended for their neighbor. Surprisingly, this happens a lot. I attend a lot of networking and conference meal events and there always seems to be confusion about the place setting.

b and d imageIf you remember only one thing this is it. When you sit down, put your left index finger and thumb together to make a small b. With your right hand do the same and make a small d. Now, under the table look at your hands and let the left b remind you that your bread plate is on the left. The right d reminds you that your drinking glasses of any type are on the right. If you follow this simple rule you’ll never have to stumble with what bread plate or glasses/cups to use.

Maybe the plethora of utensils is confusing. What do I do with all of these forks? What’s this spoon for? Here are another few tips to keep you from stumbling. Use the utensils farthest from your plate first and work your way towards the plate.

Informal place settingIn an informal place setting, the salad fork, which is the small fork, is farthest from the plate. The main course fork, which is bigger, is next to the plate. On the right of the plate you have the soup spoon farthest from the plate, then the knife closest to the plate. Not to confuse you, but sometimes hotels and restaurants put a teaspoon between the soup spoon and the knife. Depending on the meal, that teaspoon could be for stirring your coffee or iced tea or it could be for dessert. Traditionally, the dessert fork and spoon are placed above the plate, or they are brought out to you when dessert and coffee are served.

Navigating the place setting, especially at a large table, can be intimidating. Remember b and d and start with the utensils farthest out and work your way in towards the plate. If you follow at least these tips you’re way ahead of many people.

Please note: We have a new method of delivering blog posts to your inbox. If you have previously received these blog posts through Feedburner, please subscribe to receive these blog posts through the form below and unsubscribe to the posts you receive through Feedburner.

Feel free to share:

Posted in


Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Andrea on October 28, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I love this post!!

  2. Jesse G. on February 17, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I’ve never heard the b+d tip. It’s great. Thanks Arden.

  3. […] Image Source […]

Leave a Comment