THREAD ARCS: An Email Thread Visualization

This paper describes Thread Arcs, a novel interactive visualization technique designed to help people use threads found in email. Thread Arcs combine the chronology of messages with the branching tree structure of a conversational thread in a mixed-model visualization [Venolia and Neustaedter 2003] that is stable and compact. By quickly scanning and interacting with Thread Arcs, people can see various attributes of conversations and find relevant messages in them easily. We tested this technique against other visualization techniques with users’ own email in a functional prototype email client. Thread Arcs proved an excellent match for the types of threads found in users’ email and for the qualities users wanted in small-scale visualizations.

By: Bernard Kerr

Published in: RC22951 in 2003


This Research Report is available. This report has been submitted for publication outside of IBM and will probably be copyrighted if accepted for publication. It has been issued as a Research Report for early dissemination of its contents. In view of the transfer of copyright to the outside publisher, its distribution outside of IBM prior to publication should be limited to peer communications and specific requests. After outside publication, requests should be filled only by reprints or legally obtained copies of the article (e.g., payment of royalties). I have read and understand this notice and am a member of the scientific community outside or inside of IBM seeking a single copy only.


Questions about this service can be mailed to .