Skip to main content


Greene, S., Marchionini, G., Plaisant, C., Shneiderman, B. (1997)
Previews and Overviews in Digital Libraries: Designing Surrogates to Support Visual Information-Seeking
Journal of the American Society for Information Science 51, 3 (March 2000), 380-393.
HCIL-97-16, CS-TR-3838, UMIACS-TR-97-73, ISR-TR-97-80

To aid designers of digital library interfaces and web sites in creating comprehensible, predictable and controllable environments for their users, we define and discuss the benefits of previews and overviews as visual information representations. Previews and overviews are graphic or textual representations of information abstracted from primary information objects. They serve as surrogates for those objects. When utilized properly, previews and overviews allow users to rapidly discriminate objects of interest from those not of interest, and to more fully understand the scope and nature of large collections of information resources. We provide a more complete definition of previews and overviews, and discuss system parameters and aspects of primary information objects relevant to designing effective preview and overviews. Finally, we present examples that illustrate the use of previews and overviews and offer suggestions for designers.


User Interface and Visualization for Electronic Health Records: SharpC at Maryland Screenshot

User Interface and Visualization for Electronic Health Records: SharpC at Maryland
More information

Tech Reports
Video Reports
Annual Symposium

Seminars + Events
HCIL Seminar Series
Annual Symposium
HCIL Service Grants
Events Archives
HCIL Conference Travel Award
Job Openings
For the Press
HCIL Overview
Become a Member
Collaborating Groups + People
Academic Visitors
Join our Mailing List
Contact Us
Visit Us
HCIL Store
Give the HCIL a Hand
HCIL T-shirts for Sale
Our Lighter Side
HCIL Memories Page
Faculty/ Staff
Ph.D. Alumni
Past Members
Research Areas
Design Process
Digital Libraries
Physical Devices
Public Access
Research Histories
Faculty Listed by Research
Project Highlights
Project Screenshots
Publications and TRs
Studying HCI
Masters in HCI
PhD in HCI
Visiting Scholars
Class Websites
Sponsor our Research
Sponsor our Annual Symposium
Active Sponsorship
Industrial Visitors