I've created a a form that generate a list of results in a table.

I'd to know if it's interesting to number each row of table, the default number of row is 20. there is a pagination too. 20 results by 20.

I numbering each row but I don't know if it's really it's effective in this case.


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    What's the table for? What's the user using it for? To really know if you need to number the rows, you need to know if numbering the rows provides value to the user. When viewing invoices/very large data sets, number might matter. Viewing emails? Probably doesn't matter. – Ben Brocka Jul 27 '12 at 21:09
  • This table it's a report. We use to generate the users that were imported in our database or not. We can specify the period and name/email (optional). Most of time the result will be more than 1000 rows... but with a pagination (20 per page). – Osny Netto Jul 28 '12 at 0:59

My experience has been that numbering items in a table adds a lot of clarity in many situations.

Just think of a simple situation where someone wants to refer to a row. How do they do that when there aren't any numbers?

Unless the set is very small or there is a clear reason why numbering will not add any value, I would strongly suggest that you keep the numbering.

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  • Depends on the filters of course, however, in general, they need a quick way to identify a row, but both users also need to be in the same context – Aadaam Jul 28 '12 at 16:22
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    Really, if there's another unique identifier - like a personal name - I'd usually deem that enough. Numbers can get a bit unwieldy with large data sets, and as Aadaam mentions, there's a risk that if the numbers are 'local' to each view instance, users could get tripped up. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Jul 28 '12 at 18:48

If a table has sorting and/or filtering capabilities, numbering the rows is not very valuable. Those numbers will either be out of order once you sort (or skipping rows when you filter), or they will change each time the user performs one of those actions, making the numbers meaningless.

I could see including the numbers in a PDF download of the table (or when shudder printing it) since at that point, the table is static, but before then those numbers don't really provide value.

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  • Good example of when not to number them. – JohnGB Jul 30 '12 at 7:58

it depends on the table and the number of rows.

Numbering rows allows a user in a large data set the ability to visually anchor themselves within the data. This is particularly useful when you have pagination. However; row number breaks down very quickly when the user sorts the results within the data set. The number then loose context and can actually add to overall user frustration.

I find that numbering rows is best used for infinite scrolling tables.

I honestly however stay away from them as they cover up a larger issue which is good table search, filtering and setting the user up for success when locating key information.

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