A table driven print formatting system that accepts a text data stream including individual text commands and produces a printable data stream including individual print commands. The formatting system uses the text data in combination with printer status data to select subsection entries from a printer description table. The subsection entries include specific print command subsections each having print commands that can be placed immediately into the printable data stream upon selection. The table also includes general print command subsections which each have printer description data and a general print command shell. When a general print command subsection entry is selected, the printer description data is used in combination with the text data to calculate a parameter for inserting into the general shell thereby producing a print command for placing in the printable data stream. The printer description table also uses a unique entry indexing scheme that minimizes storage requirements for the table.