While every culture has differences in what is considered proper etiquette during dinner (and the definition of a “formal” dinner varies from place to place as well), most agree on one of two styles of formal dining: American and English. Both are considered by many to be respectful to the dinner host, and are designed to minimize mess and spills during and after the meal. The diner (person who dines) must become familiar with the formal dinner setting in order to avoid using utensils the wrong way.
The formal dinner table setting is iconic, with most utensils placed side by side in the order of which the food is going to be served. Directly in front of the diner is the dinner plate. A salad plate is placed on top of this, and a napkin is neatly to top it off. In the case of formal restaurants, is also accompanied by the place card. If soup is served, then the soup bowl is placed on top of the salad plate. The position of the plate is meant to serve as a center; a fixed point that under most circumstances should not move during the entire dinner, and the soup bowl and salad plate are removed as the diner moves to the following course.
To the left of the dinner plate are the forks. They are arranged from left to right in the order of which the courses are served. Therefore, the salad fork is to the far left, and the dinner fork is located closest to the dinner plate. Between these two, any number of forks except the dessert fork and cocktail fork is placed, depending on what is to be served. For example, if the waiter is serving fish, then the fish fork goes between the salad and dinner forks. All forks on this side of the plate are placed with their handles facing to the diner.