Go to
gestalt rules

Introduction to Gestalt in Report Design and Data Analysis

Gestalt is a German word meaning “shape” or “form,” and Gestalt theory in psychology refers to how people perceive and interpret the whole rather than just the individual components. In the context of report design and data analysis, Gestalt principles are incredibly helpful in creating visualizations that are intuitive, comprehensible, and aesthetically pleasing.

Gestalt Principles in Report Design

low of proximity

1. Law of Proximity
Elements that are close to each other are perceived as a group. In reports, this means that related data should be placed close together to facilitate the reader’s understanding of their relationship.

low of similarity

2. Law of Similarity
Elements that are similar in color, shape, or size are perceived as part of a group. This can be used in reports by applying consistent colors or icons to represent related data categories.

low of closure

3. Law of Closure
The human mind tends to close open shapes and perceive them as complete figures. In practice, this means that even if visual data are incomplete, readers will strive to “close” them, which can be used to create more concise and comprehensible visualizations.

low of continuity

4. Law of Continuity
People tend to perceive lines as continuous, even if they are interrupted. This can be utilized in reports to guide the reader’s eye across a chart or table in a natural and logical manner.

low of figure and ground

5. Law of Figure and Ground
People tend to divide the visual field into a figure (the focal object) and the background. In reports and visualizations, key data should be highlighted as the figure, while the background should be muted and less dominant.

Applying Gestalt Principles in Data Analysis

  1. Creating effective charts
    • Grouping Data. Using the law of proximity helps group related data points, making them easier to analyze.
    • Visual Consistency. The law of similarity allows for the creation of charts where similar data are visually consistent, aiding quick interpretation.
  2. Facilitating data comparison
    • Using Axes and Trend Lines. The law of continuity can guide the viewer’s eye along a timeline or trend line, facilitating comparisons.
    • Employing Contrast. The law of figure and ground helps highlight the most important data in the analysis, drawing attention and making them easier to understand.
  3. Optimizing space
    • Minimizing Unnecessary Elements. The law of closure suggests that viewers will “close” open figures, allowing for the omission of some visual elements to create more minimalist and clear reports.

Practical Tips

  • Use Colors and Icons Wisely. Apply similar colors and icons to related data to make interpretation easier.
  • Group Related Elements. It means that related data and visual elements should be placed close together.
  • Highlight Key Information. Use contrast and size differences to emphasize key data.
  • Utilize Axes and Trend Lines. Help viewers naturally follow the data, facilitating their analysis.


Gestalt principles provide valuable guidelines in the context of report design and data analysis. By applying these principles, one can create clearer, more intuitive, and attractive visualizations that help viewers understand and interpret the presented data. Consequently, reports and analyses become more effective and valuable for users.

Try SurveyLab for free
Best survey tool with great features

14 days trial | view complete list of features