tell me the format of the contents of a jtable?

Your thinking is correct. Within the custom TableCellRenderer, you can actually check which column/row/cell is rendered and subsequently assign a column/row/cell specific formatting.

 public static class CustomTableCellRenderer extends DefaultTableCellRenderer {    
        public Component getTableCellRendererComponent(JTable table, Object value, boolean isSelected, boolean hasFocus, int row, int column) {
            DefaultTableCellRenderer c = (DefaultTableCellRenderer) super.getTableCellRendererComponent(table, value, isSelected, hasFocus, row, column);

            // center everything in the first column
            if (column == 0) {

            // the background and border of the first cell should be gray
            if (column == 0 && row == 0) {
                c.setBorder(BorderFactory.createMatteBorder(0, 5, 0, 5, Color.GRAY));

            return c;

Please note that the DefaultTableCellRenderer is called for each individual cell.

All available formatting functions are well described in the respective documentation:

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