Convenience and order have determined the customary way of placing the silver at each cover. At the right of the plates place the knives, the spoons, and the forks that are to be used without knives (as for oysters, fish, or salad). At the left, place all the forks that are to be used with knives. Many prefer, however, to place all the forks, except the oyster fork, at the left of the plate. Enough silver for all courses, except the dessert course, is usually placed on the table; it is permissible, however, to place the silver for all courses. If the silver for any course is not placed on the table before the meal is announced, it may be brought in on a tray and placed at each cover just before serving the course; or it may be laid on each serving dish of the course.
While a general rule for laying silver is to place each piece at each cover in the order of its use, the knives are usually all grouped together at the right of the plate and the spoons laid together at the right of the knives. It is advisable, however, to place the spoons and knives in the order of their use, i.e. place the spoon that is to be used first farthest to the right and the knife that is to be used first, farthest to the right of the group of knives. Since only forks are placed at the left of the plate, they should be laid in the order of their use, that first to be used being placed farthest to the left.
All silver should be placed from one half to one inch from the edge of the table; the sharp edges of the blades of the knives should be turned towards the plates; the spoons and forks should be placed with their bowls and tines turned up. The butter spreaders may be laid across the bread-and-butter plates. Generally when soup and raw oysters are served, the oyster fork is laid across the soup spoon. If the silver that is to be used in serving a dish of food is placed on the table, it should be laid beside not in the dish of food.