“Information may be infinite, however…The organization of information is finite as it can only be organized by LATCH: Location, Alphabet, Time, Category, or Hierarchy.” -Richard Saul Wurman, Information Anxiety, 1996

In digital experiences, we often use all of the letters at once.

Things are missing, though:

  • Mnemonics – like LATCH itself
  • Random
  • Canonical – based on some standard
  • Shape – where it will fit
  • others?

Also, arguments are about category, in my experience. You almost always need to figure out some kind of “aboutness.” It’s always going to be subjective.

Ranganathan, one of the big thinkers in library science gives us five ways to think about “aboutness”: personality (or who), matter (or what stuff it is), energy (the action taken, how it’s done), space (where it’s happening), and time (when).

These are good for stretching yourself, making sure you’re covering your bases.


“If you were preparing a report on the automobile industry, you could organize cars by place of manufacture (location), year (time), model (category), or Consumer Reports ratings (hierarchy). Within each, you might list them alphabetically. Your choice would depend on what you wanted to study or convey about the industry. If you wanted to describe the different types of cars, your primary organization would probably be by category. Then, you might want to organize by hierarchy, from the least expensive to the most. If you wanted to examine car dealerships, you would probably organize first by location, and then by the number or continuum of cars sold. “After the categories are established, the information about the cars is easily retrievable. Each way of organizing permits a different understanding; each lends itself to different kinds of information; and each has certain reassuring limitations that will help make the choices of how the information is presented easier.”

Wurman, Information Anxiety?