In our system we have screens that display lists of information. Within the each column of the list there is an option for settings, such as filtering.

  • Having icons show in each column is repetitive and clutters the header.
  • Hiding the icons could cause the user to be unaware of the ability to find the settings for a column.

If we move forward with hiding the icons they will only stay hidden until the user hovers over the corresponding column.

Are there any best practices for showing / hiding an icon that is repetitive in situations like this?


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1 Answer 1


You can often determine what is best practice by looking at systems with similar functionality.

Your example is reminiscent of spreadsheet software, so look at something like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, or LibreOffice Calc:

The way they address this is to simply repeat the icon as hiding it obscures functionality from the user. You may also want to consider conveying the status of the filter (e.g. if the column is filtered, change the color of the filter icon).

  • What browser did use to look at Google Sheets? When I went to check it out, all are hidden until I hover over the column header. I am using Chrome.
    – L. Lemmer
    Nov 29, 2017 at 20:23
  • The screenshot was from LibreOffice Calc. The hover effect in Google Sheets is for the actual column which is used for sorting and other functionality. Compare that to the column header which is used for filtering. It's a pretty subtle difference. The persistent filter icon shows if you select Data -> Filter in Google Sheets. i.imgur.com/UqR1tla.png Nov 29, 2017 at 20:39

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