Re: Are chapter numbers necessary???

Subject: Re: Are chapter numbers necessary???
From: Kelley <kwalker2 -at- gte -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2002 14:14:47 -0500

At 10:25 AM 2/17/02 -0800, Emily Berk wrote:

A very small tempest in my teapot...

I am working on a document that consists of a series of chapters that are related, but that emphatically need not be read sequentially. The document is not a reference, it's really quite conceptual. But it is simply not necessary for the reader to read it in order, and, in fact, I want the reader to feel "invited" to dip into the document more or less at random.

Could you make this clear in the prefatory comments, as many authors of non-technical books do? Yesterday I rec'd a book from a colleague who loathed it so much he was willing to pay postage to get rid of it. Some people collect stray animals, my avocation is collecting stray books. :)

In it, the authors write: "Like most large books, this one can be read in many different ways: front to back, back to front, in pieces, in a hopscotch pattern, or through correspondences." [1] They go on to describe each of the four sections and the Intermezzo between section 2 and 3.

The contents is structured so that the parts are emphasized, rather than chapters. Similarly, a
book, _13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?_ divide it into 4 main sections. Each section is divided into numbered, thematized subsections.

I don't want my readers to feel that the sequence of chapters is in any way meaningful.

So, I'm thinking of removing the chapter number from each chapter. I would then need to sequentially number the pages of the document rather than start each chapter with page 1. And, of course, then I have to change the formatting of the Index and TOC. Not a lot of work, but work, just to be rid of chapter numbers.

Personally, with more creative books, I _love_ to read the contents to see how the author's mind works. I don't know how much that applies here, but I suspect it does to some extent.

I think you need something to cue readers, since very few of us can remember the page numbers where the material we appreciated (and want to return to) was located. Some people do, of course, but many of us remember visual cues such as bands of color for each distinctive section or, icons or designs associated with each section. The only thing I can think of at the moment is a catalog. This might be a workaround? For instance, I just flipped through's Metamorphosis catalog. They simply label each page with a one word theme and page number: work, relax, learn, entertain, care, go, grow, win, heal, play, etc. They use > WORK 007 <, > RELAX 045 <, etc on alternating right and left edge of the pages.

Just thoughts....


[1] Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

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Are chapter numbers necessary???: From: Emily Berk

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