Friday Design Principle: The Five Hat Racks

Dario Civinelli
Sep 9, 2016 · 1 min read

There are five ways to organize information: location, alphabet, time, category and continuum

Originally described by Richard Saul Wurman in 1990 in his book “Information Anxiety,” the Five Hat Racks principle claims that there are a limited number of organizational strategies. He presented them as the acronym LATCH. (“H” was originally for “Hierarchy” which Wurman later changed to “Continuum”.)

Each strategy and how it describes organization by:

  • Location: geographic or spatial reference (important when wayfinding is a priority, e.g. a tourist map of things to do, or an emergency exit map)
  • Alphabet: alphabetical sequence (beneficial when information is referencial, or when no other organizing principle is appropriate)
  • Time: chronological sequence (e.g. a TV guide, or a step-by-step guide)
  • Category: similarity or relatedness (think of the various areas in a department store)
  • Continuum: orders of magnitude (highest to lowest, best to worst)

Fun facts: Wurman started TED, and was the first to coin the term “Information Architect.”

Dario Civinelli

Written by

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade