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Limit the Number of Obdjects on a Page

Aim for 2-6 objects per page.

Limiting the number of objects on a page can improve your audience's ability to focus on your data, and improve your audience's comprehension of your data.

The more objects that are on a page, the less relevant they seem. By limiting the number of objects and increasing the white space around objects, you enhance the visibility of your data. [1]


Typically, users do not want to see all possible report objects at one time. Instead, users prefer to see only the few reports objects that support the specific and concrete questions they are investigating. [3]

How do you choose which report objects to show? [6] [7]

  • Identify the story you want to tell by determining the specific questions of your audience.
  • Design the page using the highest priority report objects that answer your audience's questions.
Consider using a stacking container to handle multiple objects.

One way to manage the density of a page is to use a stacking container. A stacking container:

  • Allows your audience to view one object at a time.
  • Provides flexibility for users to quickly access other objects on that page. [5]

Improve your audience's comprehension of your data.

The larger the graph or chart, the more time your audience will spend studying it. Your audience will merely glance at relatively smaller graphs and charts.

When a graph or chart is meant for a specific task that requires much detail, make that graph or chart larger to enable your audience to easily study and comprehend the details and data. [2]


Avoid the temptation to reduce the size of several objects and pile them on a page. Doing so causes the objects and their data to be illegible. [3]

Instead, carefully identify the objects that are important to compare with each other and locate those objects on the same page. Relocate the remainder to another page or another report. [4]


Mobile in mind

Reducing the visual complexity of each page means it is more likely the content will fit on a tablet without the need to scroll. Limiting content to one screen eases interactions such as filtering between objects and visual comparison between objects on the page. [1]

The report layout (not the data) is described in XML. The more report objects, the larger the XML. The larger XML, the more time it takes to open and render the layout of the report.

Learn More

Want to dig deeper? The recommendations in this section are based on the following resources as well the experience of SAS consultants and employees.

  1. Coyle, C. L., Malek, M., Mayse, C., Patil, V., & Shell, S. "Data Can Be Beautiful: Crafting a Compelling Story with SAS Visual Analytics." In Proceedings of the SAS Global Forum 2017 Conference. April 5, 2017. ↩︎

  2. Orlov, P., Ermolova, T., Laptev, V., Mitrofanov, A. and Ivanov, V. "The Eye-tracking Study of the Line Charts in Dashboards Design." February 2016. In Proceedings of the 11th Joint Conference on Computer Vision, Imaging and Computer Graphics Theory and Applications (VISIGRAPP 2016) - Volume 2: IVAPP. ↩︎

  3. Froese, M.-E., and Tory, M. "Lessons Learned from Designing Visualization Dashboards." March 4, 2016. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications. Available for purchase from IEEE. ↩︎

  4. Baldonado, M.Q.W., Woodruff, A., & Kuchinsky, A. "Guidelines for using multiple views in information visualization." In Proceedings of the Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces. May 24 - 26, 2000. ↩︎

  5. Mandavilli, L., and Chitale, A. "Carry-On Suitcases and Mobile Devices: Using SAS Visual Analytics Designer for Creating Optimally Designed Reports for SAS Mobile BI." In Proceedings of the SAS Global Forum 2016 Conference. April 21, 2016.↩︎

  6. Strelchenko, K. "10 Responsive Design Problems and Fixes." UX Magazine. November 13, 2014. ↩︎

  7. Mobley, K. L., Hogan, R., and Phadke, P. "Designing SAS Visual Analytics Reports: Write Once, View Anywhere." In Proceedings of the SAS Global Forum 2016 Conference. April 21, 2016.↩︎