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principles:miller_s_law

Miller's Law

Variants and Alternative Names

Context

Principle Statement

Any list should not contain more than 7±2 items.

Description

Lists such as items in the main menu of a program or bullets on a presentation slide should be limited to 7±2 items.

Rationale

The human short-term memory is limited. Research shows that one can remember 7±2 chunks of information.

Strategies

  • Divide a long list into sub-lists adhering to the rule.

Caveats

Note that this principle is questioned.

See also section contrary principles.

Origin

Evidence

  • Examined: There is scientific research concerning the short-term memory1). But this does not apply to any aspect of design directly.
  • Accepted: The principle is widely stated as a (user interface) design rule.
  • :!: Questioned :!:: It is highly doubtful to directly making a limit for memorizing digits to a generally applicable design rule. There is no evidence suggesting a rule that a list should not be longer then 7±2 items2).

Relations to Other Principles

Generalizations

Specializations

Contrary Principles

Complementary Principles

  • More Is More Complex: This is a proposed design rule, which is not directly affected by the criticism of Miller's Law.

Principle Collections

Examples

Description Status

Further Reading

Discussion

Discuss this wiki article and the principle on the corresponding talk page.

principles/miller_s_law.txt · Last modified: 2013-06-22 20:43 by christian