Cross-references with numbered headings?

Subject: Cross-references with numbered headings?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 08:31:21 -0400

Keith Soltys is currently editing <... a moderately large (150 pages)
specification document that uses numbered headings. There are a fair number
of cross references of the form 'for more information, refer to section
3.1.1, "Watching Out for
Stobor" on page 34.' Given that I am stuck (for the moment, anyway) with
the mumbered headings, do you think I should simplify this by just refering
to the section and heading title without the page number? The section title
should give the reader enough information to find the heading quickly in the
doucment - most of the sections are fairly short.>>

A cross-reference should ideally serve two purposes: First, it should tell
the reader clearly where to look for the referenced information. Second, it
should provide enough information (e.g., the title of the section being
referenced) that the reader can decide whether it's worth making the
excursion. That being the case, it's worth preserving the current cross-ref
style if you can do so easily; if not, using just the section probably
satisfies the minimum requirement (namely, telling the reader where to

But upon reflection, I detect a good compromise that solves your problem
without sacrificing either goal of a cross-ref: preserve the section number,
but describe the destination without using the section title (since the
title may change, but the content won't). Thus, even if section 1.1.1
becomes "Printing" after brief incarnations as "Using the laser printer",
"Killing more trees", and "Outputting 101", you can write the
cross-reference once: "For more information on obtaining a paper copy
[that's the context part], skip nimbly across the wine-dark pages to section
1.1.1 [that's the hardwired cross-ref]."

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
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