[Tex/LaTex] Which tabular packages do which tasks and which packages conflict


I've read a couple of questions recently about tabular environments, and it seems there's a whole bunch of packages that do stuff in this field. I'd really like a summary of what each package does, and which conflict.

For example a quick google (plus my memory) got me tabularx, booktabs, multirow, collcell, array, mdwtab, longtable, supertabular

Which should I be using for what purposes? And more importantly, which conflict?

[Should this be CW? One package per answer sort of thing?]

Best Answer

I would like to start with a small list that used to be part of the wiki and is now maintained here. Overview of packages

Basic packages

  • array offers more flexible column formatting; fixes to some spacing issues. An almost "must-use" package.

  • booktabs supports professional looking tables; better vertical spacing; better rules; specifically designed for tables without vertical lines (the norm for publication-quality tables).

  • tabularx provides a column type which expands to fill the specified width of the table.

  • tabulary provides column types which are proportional to the natural width of their contents.

  • multirow lets tabular material span multiple rows.

  • dcolumn creates columns which align on a decimal marker. Similar packages: numprint, rccol, warpcol. Cf. also siunitx below.

  • tabularht sets the tabular with a specified height.

Multi-page tables

Captioning and notes

  • threeparttable typesets tables with captions and notes matching width.

  • threeparttablex provides the functionality of threeparttable to tables created using longtable.

  • floatrow (although mainly about customizing layouts of float environments) allows for footnotes and additional explanations in tables.

  • ctable allows notes/footnotes below tables and figures with the use of a command instead of an environment.


  • siunitx (although mainly about typesetting values with units) provides the S column type that aligns on a decimal mark.

Color and fancy features

  • colortbl is intended for colored rows/columns/cells. The xcolor package with the table option provides alternating table row colors to extend it.

  • arydshln can print horizontal and vertical dashed lines.

  • delarray adds delimiters (braces, parentheses, brackets) to arrays.

  • bigdelim inserts variable-sized multi-row delimiters into a table.

  • blkarray splits arrays into blocks and add delimiters for each block.

  • makecell multiple line cells, better headers, gape in cells, numbered rows, thick lines, diagonally divided cells, etc.

  • diagbox diagonally divided tabular cell.

  • hhline better double line producing.

  • tabularkv adds a key value interface for tabular properties.


  • tabu is a single package that provides much of the functionality of many of the above packages. It is unmaintained and usage currently not recommended.

  • tabularray is a new LaTeX3 package that provides much of the functionality of tabu package. It is an alternative for the outdated tabu package.

  • nicematrix is a LaTeX3 package which constructs matrices and tabulars based on standard environments of LaTeX, array and amsmath but constructs also PGF/TikZ nodes under the cells, rows and columns. The final user can use these nodes directly with TikZ but the package provides also functionalities (using these nodes under the hood) for colored rectangles, rules, exterior row and columns, continuous dotted lines in the matrices, etc. It is compatible with booktabs but not with longtable.

Which packages are especially recommendable? A quick guide:

  • array is a universal talent for tuning whole columns by commands
  • tabularx is great for auto-sizing columns
  • booktabs is a must for professional-looking layout
  • longtable is very popular for multi-page tables.

Choose further packages depending on the required features.

Package conflicts

  • xtab and supertabular don't work together. Loading both would cause a conflict. xtab should be preferred, since it's written as an extension to supertabular.

  • According to the manual, arydshln has to be loaded after array, longtable, colortab, and colortbl, respectively. Such a problem occurred in this question: Cannot insert multirow within multicolumn

  • Also, arydshln conflicts with supertabular.

  • ltablex can interfere with tabularx uses in two-column documents (because it uses longtable which cannot simply be put in floats), see there.

Related Question