Not sure if this is the correct site to ask this but I will anyways.

I'm an inexperienced web developer and my company is having me convert a simple Excel application into a web page format. The Excel sheet essentially is used as a part search tool. For some reason, for a while now they have gotten here by having IT add the most recent parts every so often to the Excel sheet. It includes about 30,000 records and about 40 different part attributes (40 columns). The only functions that can be done on this "application" is having the user enter a search term for any particular column, e.g. searching all records for customer XXX.

Although I have a general idea on how to set it up (maybe not the best way), I don't know how to best format it so that the user doesn't have to scroll sideways to look at all the fields because there is 40+. I guess my question is: What is the ideal way to format my web page so that the user can see 40+ fields in a table without having to scroll horizontally? Now I know that may not be possible, so how do I allow the web page to be scrolled horizontally? Like I said, I'm very new to web development and I don't have anyone around me to ask these kinds of questions.

  • One possibility would be allow the user to either select only the columns they're interested in, or at least rearrange the order of the columns... This could reduce the need to scroll considerably.
    – aslum
    Jul 6, 2015 at 17:05
  • The ideal way is mostly dependent on the specific of your data. We can probably safely say that a simple spreadsheet view is not the ideal way if reducing horizontal scrolling is key.
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 17:12

2 Answers 2


Separate it into say, four tabs at the top, with each tab displaying 10 different columns out of your total 40 columns. 4 Tabs * 10 Columns = 40 Columns, no horizontal scrolling needed. I can't see there being any other solution, short of truncating data in a way that makes it unscannable.

This also creates the option of letting you organize 40 different columns, into 4+ distinct groups of related content, which in fact can make the large document more readable to users because they're not overwhelmed by having to mentally organize 40 different columns and relate them to each other in their head -- you can take up some of that mental work by organizing them into related groups on your end.


Grouping the fields by some reasonable categories has sense, as @HC_ has mentioned.

You can see how eBay did it, with more than 40 fields:
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Place more important groups/fields upward.

The other way to decrease complexity is to display most important/frequent fields and provide links to disclose the rest fields. Having a large numbers of records, you can analyse it and set heuristics on importantness/frequency of the fields.

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