Plant polyphenols can form functional coatings on various materials through self-polymerization. In this paper, a series of modified capillary columns, which possess diversity of charge characteristics for modulating electroosmotic flow (EOF), were prepared by one-step co-deposition of gallic acid (GA), a plant-derived polyphenol monomer, and branched polyethyleneimine (PEI). The physicochemical properties of the prepared columns were characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), UV-Vis spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The magnitude and direction of EOF of GA/PEI co-deposited columns were modulated by changing a series of coating parameters, such as post-incubation of FeCl3, co-deposition time, and deposited amounts of GA and PEI with different relative molecular mass (PEI-600, PEI-1800, PEI-10000, and PEI-70000). Furthermore, the separation efficiencies of the prepared GA/PEI co-deposited columns were evaluated by separations of small molecules, including organic acids, polar nucleotides, phenols, nucleic acid bases and nucleosides. Results indicated that modulating of EOF plays an important role in enhancing the separation performance and reversing the elution order of the analytes. Finally, the developed method was successfully applied to quantitative analysis of acidic compounds in four real samples. The recoveries were in the range of 73.5%-85.8% for citric acid, benzoic acid, sorbic acid, salicylic acid and ascorbic acid in beverage and fruit samples, 101.6%-104.9% for cinnamic acid, vanillic acid, and ferulic acid in Angelica sinensis sample, while 84.6%-97.8% for guanosine-5'-monophosphate, uridine-5'-monophosphate, cytosine-5'- monophosphate and adenosine-5'-monophosphate in Cordyceps samples. These results indicated that the co-deposition of plant polyphenol-inspired GA/PEI coatings can provide new opportunities for EOF modulation of capillary electrophoresis.