What is the name for the top left cell of a table? The one next to the column headers and above the row headers. Does it even have a technical name?

E.g. the cell with ??? in this table:

|???  |Yes   |No    |
|A    |1     |4     |
|B    |2     |5     |
|C    |3     |6     |
  • 3
    "Top left" is normal, but if you said "first cell" people would get what you meant too.
    – Rupe
    Jul 4, 2014 at 12:30
  • I guess there could be a nickname among typographers, as that cell is quite special, but I wouldn't know what it is.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jul 4, 2014 at 12:34
  • Why the downvote? It's a perfectly good question: not easy to google for it, this term might exist or might not, so asking it here is entirely appropriate.
    – o0'.
    Jul 4, 2014 at 12:42
  • 1
    "Top left" is clear (at least for RTL languages). "First cell" is good but could refer to the first data cell (1 in my example).
    – dave1010
    Jul 4, 2014 at 12:59
  • @dave1010 Yep that's a fair point about "first cell".
    – Rupe
    Jul 4, 2014 at 13:19

3 Answers 3


The top left corner of any display is called the Canton in English heraldry.
In the U.S. flag, for instance, the blue part with white stars is the canton.

In a table, it's usually blank because the top row and left column are labels, not data;
so whatever appears in the top left box can't be either. Thus it's available for special purposes.

  • 1
    Very nice. I often use a bend sinister in that cell — so ⧅ with text in both halves. That way I can separately and unambiguously label the column headers extending to the right of that cell and the row headers beneath it.
    – tchrist
    Jul 4, 2014 at 15:05
  • I do much the same thing, though I rarely hafta deal with spreadsheets these days. Jul 4, 2014 at 15:08
  • Can you use canton for a table and table cell?
    – ermanen
    Jul 4, 2014 at 15:39
  • You certainly can if you want to. Spreadsheets are entirely new technology and, like all such, use entirely metaphorical terminology; there certainly is no specific term for it hallowed by centuries of tradition. The only problem is whether anybody will understand canton in the appropriate heraldic way; my guess is that few will -- because heraldry is a fairly rare topic of interest -- so you'll hafta sell the term yourself if you use it. But there's certainly no reason why you can't. Jul 4, 2014 at 16:46
  • I have no idea. As I said, this is all new territory; you pays your money and you takes your choice. Jul 4, 2014 at 18:37

It’s called the northwest corner cell.

For example:

Select the northwest corner cell of the transportation table and allocate as many units as possible equal to the minimum between availability supply and demand. . . .

  • 1
    I'm not convinced that this would identify the right cell when there are header rows and/or columns as in the OP. Your example, for example, is talking about data, so if the table had headers I would assume it meant the top-left data cell. The more I think about it the less convinced I am that there is an answer that unambiguously identifies the correct cell, in the case with headers.
    – Rupe
    Jul 4, 2014 at 14:07
  • ...unless, of course, the answer explicitly mentions headers as @ermanen's does.
    – Rupe
    Jul 4, 2014 at 14:33
  • @Rube cell[0][0] = "⧅"
    – tchrist
    Jul 4, 2014 at 14:51

It is called first header cell, especially in programming.

It is also mentioned in the table style element order on MSDN site.

  • 1
    Frequently the cell referred to in the question is empty, so some people may actually refer to the cell next to it as the "first header cell". Jul 4, 2014 at 15:07
  • @pacoverflow: Even when it is empty, it is still called first header cell.
    – ermanen
    Jul 4, 2014 at 15:38

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