Re: Do Users Refer to a Table of Figures?

Subject: Re: Do Users Refer to a Table of Figures?
From: Win Day <winday -at- home -dot- com>
To: "Elna Tymes" <etymes -at- lts -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000 07:11:57 -0500

At 09:51 PM 3/7/00 -0800, Elna Tymes wrote:

> <<My experience suggests that a good index and table of contents are far
> more
> useful, and that for most users, a table of figures is just a waste of trees
> and bytes.>>

I tend to agree that the List of Figures and List of Tables is a waste of
effort. However I have occasionally seen users who really do use both when
they're trying to find something. Note, however, that these people are a very
small minority of users.

What has happened with Frame's default use of List of Figures and List of
Tables included in the options you can get along with TOC and index is that it
has legitimized something previously considered superfluous, except in special
situations like MilSpec and other esoteric writing environments. And because it
was available, people setting up templates in Frame about 15 years ago thought
that they should be included - after all, Frame was better than previous word
processing packages. And the rest of us got kinda swept along in the trend.

You don't honestly believe that lists of tables and figures are included in technical documents because of Framemaker, do you? <grin>

I've been writing technical docs for years, and reading and using them for many years (more than 15; closer to 30). Back in the days when these docs were typed on manual typewriters, there were lists of tables and figures.

No, I never worked in a MilSpec environment. And I don't really consider engineering to be an esoteric environment, do you?

Engineering reports, operating manuals, startup and shutdown guides, specifications, design basis docs -- they've all had lists of tables and figures as part of the table of contents. Most of these docs did not have indexes, just very detailed TOCs.


Win Day
Technical Writer

mailto:winday -at- wordsplus -dot- net

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