When we have a data table shows time off requests sorted by dates, is it good to default sorting to ascending or descending?

(We do not have the capability to change sorting, or maybe that's the real issue we should improve changing sorting ascending/descending?)

  • 2
    As Luke suggested in his answer, the answer to this lies in the kind of data and why users are seeing it. If you can expand your question a bit, it'll be easier to help.
    – dennislees
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 19:57
  • I always thought that 'ascending' and 'descending' were ill-advised terms, since ascending puts the largest items down at the bottom. Perhaps there is a better term, like 'increasing' or 'forward-order' or something?
    – user67695
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 21:24
  • I'm really confused by this. Are you really just letting users select dates? In which case a) what's one reason you would have it any way other than chronological? and b) why not use a date picker? there are dozens of design patterns for letting users input dates.
    – dennislees
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:33
  • @dennislees hi I hope the updated description is more clear. I shouldn't reveal too much but it's a list showing all the time off requests for current user; and sort them chronologically. Currently we are debating is ascending or descending makes more sense
    – YogaPanda
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:56
  • In a situation like this you look to the use case - why is a user looking at this this data? What actions will they make based on it?
    – dennislees
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


From personal experience, Most Recent is the most natural sort order for this type of thing. A time off request is time sensitive, so a user will want to read/edit objects relative to the current time. Secondly, as a user builds up more and more time off requests, it becomes even more important. Imagine scrolling through 50 past time off requests to get to your current one!

  • I agree with your. Users can only come to this page to edit requests in the system. It's quite important to allow them finding requests without scrolling through a lot of old requests. Thank you @Kerr
    – YogaPanda
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 15:17

If I understand correctly this table shows upcoming dates. I would sort chronologically ascending:

  • January 1
  • January 2
  • January 3
  • Hi Luke, please use the comment feature under the question to request additional information like this. Answers should provide, explanations, rationale, and ideally links to sources.
    – dennislees
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 19:54
  • Users request different types of time off
    – YogaPanda
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 20:06
  • @YogaPanda - you need to update your question with this information. Also, what format do these "time off types" take? What's does a sample list look like?
    – dennislees
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 20:08
  • 1
    Can you tell me why would you choose ascending? If it's time off requests, would you want to see your most recent request?
    – YogaPanda
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:57
  • @YogaPanda I agree—after the system has been used for a while, this list will get much longer, so new requests would be pretty far away. I'd show most recent first by default, then allow the user to switch the sort order if they'd like. Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 18:41

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