Proper table settings can include a variety of dishes and utensils. For many people, formal dinners are a thing of the past and the correct etiquette for setting a dinner table isn't always widely practiced. The positioning of salad bowls depends on how formal a meal is and the courses served. Once you have set your menu, you'll be prepared to carefully set your table to match.
Standard Place Settings
Traditional meals are served with the salad preceding the main course. For this type of meal, the dinner plate sits in the center of the place mat. The salad bowl is then placed on top of the plate. If soup is served before the salad, the soup bowl goes on the dinner plate first, then the salad plate is added after guests are done with the soup course. Silverware has a specific placement order as well. The knife is placed on the right side of the plate with the blade facing toward the plate. Spoons sit to the right of the knife, with the soup spoon placed in the order it will be used. Forks are placed on the left of the main plate, also in the order they will be used. The salad fork should be to the left of the dinner fork. If this setting seems too cluttered, the table can be set with the salad bowls only. Servers can then clear the salad bowls before bringing out dinner plates.
Informal Place Settings
For informal meals, salad is often served alongside the main dish rather than as a separate course. In this case, you have the option of serving the salad on the same plate as the rest of the dinner, as a type of side dish. If other items in the meal use gravy or other messy elements, you may want to keep the salad in a separate bowl. In this case, you should set the salad bowl to the left of the forks.
Main Course Salads
If you're serving a dinner salad as the main course of the meal, the salad bowl should be placed in the center of the place setting where the dinner plate would ordinarily be. If you have an additional plate for items such as bread, this should be placed directly above the forks. Make sure your diners are aware that the salad is the main course so they don't nibble at the salad in anticipation of another dish and go home hungry.
For casual family dining, serving dishes can be placed directly on the table. Keeping a large salad bowl on the table from which to serve everyone ensures that refills are on hand for those who want extra. This type of salad bowl should be equipped with salad tongs for easy serving. Serving dishes should be passed around the table from left to right when diners are serving themselves.