Should a data grid be able to use a hover for more information pattern? This type of pattern is commonly used in interfaces that have more of a thumbmail view of items, for instance on Netflix when you hover over a movie title for two full seconds you get more info about that movie. When you are in a data grid, there is significantly less space for your mouse to rest that is not hoverable. I fear that this pattern may become annoying when you don't want to use the hover.

Alternatives I have come up with is a small "information" icon in a column on the left-most side of the grid, that allows you to hover for more info. Or, removing the hover altogether and implementing a single click for more information.

Has anyone seen good examples of a hover used in a grid? Do you have any alternate ideas to help with this problem?

1 Answer 1


One possible solution to tooltips which would otherwise flicker around every time you move into and out of a cell in a grid is to place the tooltip such that it is either above or below the grid (choose one and stick to it, depending on what works for your layout scenario). This is irrespective of which row the cursor is over. Meanwhile, position the tooltip horizontally so as to left-align with the column that the mouse is over.

For example:

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It's a pattern seen reasonably frequently, and means that you can have tooltips for each cell in the grid, but the tooltips do not flicker about, and do not obscure either the cells or the headers.

You will also sometimes see a similar behaviour used where you have densely packed buttons or other UI controls, for example in MS Word or Excel where the tooltips appear below the bottom of the ribbon - not over the object itself. Vertically stacked object show the tooltip at the exact same position, and are left aligned with the object in question. For example seen here with the cell styles selector in the ribbon of MS Excel 2007.

enter image description here

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