Chunking

Combining units of information into fewer units, to aid browsing and learning

A ‘chunk’ is a piece of information, like a word or a set of numbers, held in the short-term memory. The capacity of this memory is limited, believed to be between three and six, so by structuring information to fit these limitations, users’ recollection of that information can be improved. The act of combining similar pieces of information into chunks is known as ‘chunking’.

Designers should consider chunking for tasks which are specifically related to memory, not for information that will be searched or scanned. In the latter case, reducing the number of groups information is sorted into can make it more difficult to find the information being searched for.