Do you know of any study or evaluation of the use of mouse cursors specifically designed for the use in diagrams?

For example I'm thinking about using a cross hair instead of an arrow cursor when I want to select something in a scatter plot. Is it wise to have a gap in the centre of the cross hair to not cover what interests you or is it better if it has the inverse colour of what it is covering?

Is there a good source that covers questions like these? What is your experience?

  • 2
    have you looked at the w3c suggestions? w3schools.com/cssref/pr_class_cursor.asp
    – Pascal
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 8:03
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    Cursors will also hold different meanings to different users: a cross hair with a little gap/inverse thing reads "paint/draw" to me, because that's what Photoshop has trained me to associate it with. Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 8:58
  • @Pascal Yes I checked the standard cursors but these are highly dependent on your OS configuration. And I think none is made to point at tiny things without obscuring a lot of space. Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 19:18
  • @JessicaYang Thanks for the input. I haven't thought about this yet. What would you expect a cross hair to mean in the context of a scatter plot? Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 19:22

2 Answers 2


Something like AutoCAD crosshairs seems to me to be a design which is already well thought out and would work for your situation. You may want to constrain the position of the cursor to specific intervals on the scatter plot. And you could add snapping functionality. I would avoid any situation which requires pixel precise positioning of the cursor.


It widely varies on the type of data visualization you're going to be using.

The visualization library d3.js does a good job of switching to an appropriate cursor depending on the visualization. I would dig in their library of visualization and other resources to see if you can find one similar to your situation and how their cursor changed.

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