Zebra Striping: Pointless?

By Deane Barker on May 10, 2008

Zebra Striping: Does it Really Help?: This article suggests that zebra-striping (alternate row coloring) in tables does nothing to improve usability.

This experiment yielded no evidence that zebra striping consistently improves the accuracy or speed of tasks.

It does, however, make the tables look nicer to most people. Maybe that’s reason enough?



  1. Actually, I always use 5-line zebra striping. People love it. The one-line version has never had any point: the viewer wants to distuingish between the lines next to each other, and the one-line zebra just makes it worse,imo.

  2. You should change the URI. Thank to Network Solutions’ latest screwed-up idea of hijacking unassigned sub-domains, anything on alistapart.com (unlike the assigned http://www.alistapart.com) goes to a Network Solutions ad page…

    And, for the on-topic bit, I think that the main case where zebra striping is noticeably helpful is where the table is too wide to fit the screen, and require scrolling. A condition which they explicitly tried to avoid in this study.

    They also didn’t specify the type of borders used in the non-striped table. There are images of the zebra-stripped table, but not of the other (not even in the full study PDF). Zebra-striping makes it easier to “move” along a row. But if the row borders are clear anyway, and the column borders aren’t much more prominent than them, it’s less necessary.

    Though, well, yes, the fact that people think it looks better is reason enough to do it when it’s not too technically challenging.

  3. Yaron,

    I work for Network Solutions. Just want to clarify that there is no redirect of sub-domains. The domain alistapart.com expired for a period of time. and thats why you saw the Network Solutions page. I just tried anything.alistapart.com just to test again.



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