A shelf is a flat, horizontal plane used for items that are displayed or stored in a home, business, store, or elsewhere. It is raised off the floor and often anchored to a wall, supported on its shorter length sides by brackets, or otherwise anchored to cabinetry by brackets, dowels, screws, or nails. It can also be held up by columns or pillars. A shelf is also known as a counter, ledge, mantel, or rack. Tables designed to be placed against a wall, possibly mounted, are known as console tables and are similar to individual shelves.
A shelf can be attached to a wall or other vertical surface, be suspended from a ceiling, be a part of a free-standing frame unit, or can be part of a piece of furniture such as a cabinet, bookcase, entertainment center, some headboards, and so on. Usually, two to six shelves make up a unit, each shelf being attached perpendicularly to the vertical or diagonal supports and positioned parallel one above the other. Free-standing shelves can be accessed from either one or both longer-length sides. A shelf with hidden internal brackets is termed a floating shelf. A shelf or case designed to hold books is a bookshelf.
The length of the shelf is based upon the space limitations of its siting and the amount of weight which it will be expected to hold. The vertical distance between the shelves is based upon the space limitations of the unit’s siting and the height of the objects; adjustable shelving systems allow the vertical distance to be altered. The unit can be fixed or be some form of mobile shelving. The most heavy-duty shelving is pallet racking. In a store, the front edge of the shelf under the object held might be used to display the name, product number, pricing, and other information about the object.