I'm working on a print product catalogue where each product has all of its variations listed in tables. I've just encountered a product that has 120 unique sku's, which ends up spreading the table over 4 pages in the catalogue!

There are only 6 widths, but over 20 colours for each width, which is what makes the table so large.

I'd like to eliminate the repetition and reduce the number of pages that this table uses, while still associating the correct sku with its color. My first thought was to run the repeated data (Diameter, Package, MBS, Weight) in a single row, then display the sku over the actual product colour in a grid. However, with all the colours I'm concerned that'll make for a visually distracting layout.

Has anyone else encountered large tables like this, and how did you display the data effectively?

How can I organise large tables of data, with several duplicated attributes, in a way that is easy to consume?

Product Table Sample


2 Answers 2


I didn't read the question properly the first time, and actually recommended the same thing you said you were thinking about doing.

As I think it is the best option, I'll just provide some reasoning for why.

  • The duplicated information in your table makes it look like ~30 individual products, and is an absolute pain to read and find something.

  • There is rarely a good reason to duplicate information to such an extent.

  • As you stated "There are only 6 widths", but that is impossible to tell straight away from the table you currently have.

To state it the way I understand it:

You're only selling 6 distinct products, with 20 colour variations for each product.

This should be immediately obvious. This should be the starting point for your design.

So your design goals would be:

  • Show that there are 6 products

  • Show that for each product, there are 20 variations.

My advice is, do not duplicate all of that content. Use the duplicate content to define a single product, and then provide the colour variations in that product as a separate "dataset" nearby.

Mockup made with Google Spreadsheets enter image description here


I don't know ultimately how feasible this is without applying it to all the data. However using merely two rows for each product could be an option.

Combining the #s with the corresponding color and breaking it out of the common product information would seem to be a good way to eliminate the overall repetition and size of the table.

enter image description here

Even if you were to use 4 rows per product - 1 to define size then 3 rows of 5 colors each for product codes - that may be better than 20 rows per product.

  • 1
    This is similar to what I'd thought of as well. I'm concerned that we're now mixing the orientation of the headings, where the column headers don't apply to the Product Code row header. It seems that this style of layout is more confusing than a straight "page eating" table.
    – Fireflight
    Sep 26, 2014 at 17:44

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