I need to create a cheat sheet that would save the user a lot of time for calculations in a medical application. So far I have the cheat sheet with the data represented as a table, where the y axis is one measurement, and the x axis is the other. At the cell that they intersect is 3 numbers, the results of the calculation from the x and y axis numbers.

The problem I have is that the table is mostly empty and is not efficiently using space, like in the image below. The y axis can only be a certain amount difference to the x axis. Thus, the mostly empty table. Is there a better way to represent this information?

enter image description here

  • Why don't you consider representing the information using a scatter plot or a bubble chart with x & y axes? Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


You rephrase your question at the end as "Is there a better way to represent this information?" and that's what you should have started with.

The initial problem here is not that half empty table - the base UX concern is that the user needs extra information when working with your interface.

You are right noting that presenting all possible information as a table is very costly in terms of screen space and user cognitive load and, thus, not very effective.

I don't see how this can be improved visually. Only if you make optimizations at the information level (how the formulas are calculated etc.) then it might be able to shrink it by coming up with shorter formulas that depend on less inputs (and, thus, rows and columns making your table smaller), but most likely that is out of the scope of your task.

However, I believe there must be a smarter way to assist your users and improve their UX. What you need is a conditional display of cheat sheet information. You don't need to show everything at all times, just the things user needs at this particular moment by narrowing it down.

Without knowing your application and what it does exactly and how it has been built, I can give only very broad suggestions. You should be creating a smart app, that assists user by detecting what already has been inputted and then giving them extra information based on that, or even better, calculating it for them already.

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