RE: Chapter number (long!)

Subject: RE: Chapter number (long!)
From: "Brady, Joy" <JBrady -at- alldata -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 15:28:16 -0500

Karen Neeb wrote:
"> What are some arguments for and against the two main ways to
number chapters,
> > i.e., numbering the entire manual consecutively (1-568) vs. using the
> chapter
> > number and restarting each chapter at 1 (1-1, 2-1, etc.)?"
>
You know, I just don't know why people hate the restarting. Perhaps they've
seen it used where it's not needed. In certain *limited* contexts, it can
be much more usable than continuous numbering, though! Here's how I make
the choice...

Use continuous numbering (which you prefer) for all cases EXCEPT in these 2
cases:

1. Will the user will have to use this manual over and over again? IOW,
will the chapter numbers gain significance to the user?

--- As a helicopter mechanic for the Army National Guard for 8 years, I was
required to have the manuals available at all times when doing maintenance
work. Technically, if we were performing a task, the manual was to be open
to the appropriate page, and sitting nearby. In school, we were made to
memorize the correspondence between a part of the helicopter, and a chapter
number. If I was working on "Flight Controls" (Chapter 11), then whether it
was page 867 of the entire manual was completely useless to me. I wanted to
know the page number's displacement from the beginning of the chapter. I
could flip to Chapter 11 quickly. (One of Fitts' usability principles is
that a larger target can be reached quicker by the user - this seems to fit
that principle.) Once I was there, getting to the particular page was easy.
Chapter was truly significant in this sort of manual.


2. Will the contents of individual chapters change frequently, requiring
the user to replace one section now, another section a couple of months from
now.

--- The maintenance manuals were subject to lots of revision. We kept them
in 3-ring binders. A change to a single section did NOT throw off the
numbering scheme of the entire manual. That's good in that saves printing
costs and paper.

Just to show that this is not unique to military maintenance: I was a
flight attendant for 7 years, every working minute of which I was required
to keep an Inflight Service Manual available (FAA Inspectors requested my
manual from time to time, and checked to see if I had installed the
airline's latest update to the manual. If I didn't have it installed, I
would have been in real trouble.) This manual was also broken down by
section, as changes to FAA Regulations affected the contents on a fairly
regular basis. Again, the entire manual could be preserved, rather than
reprinted, when changes were made to individual sections.

I suppose that the users of these sorts of manuals are not just those
required to carry them, but those required to pay for the writing & printing
of ongoing changes.

If the use of the manual doesn't match the characteristics described above,
normal continuous numbering would probably be preferred by your users.

Joy Brady






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