Re: Are chapter numbers necessary???

Subject: Re: Are chapter numbers necessary???
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 05:01:12 -0800 (PST)

--- Emily Berk <emily -at- armadillosoft -dot- com> wrote:
> A very small tempest in my teapot...
> I don't want my readers to feel that the sequence of chapters is in any way
> meaningful.

I think your motives are good, but I'm not sure your readers will thank you. If
they are accustomed to chapter numbers, they will be disoriented by their
absence. This may be a situation where what you think makes sense--and you make
a viable case--is irrelevant. It may be more useful to think about how your
readers will use the document.

> 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.
> What do you guys think? Does the chapter number serve a useful purpose?

When I was relatively new to technical writing, I led a drive within our
publications organization to get rid of Chapter-Page numbering (as in, page
1-4, 2-7, 10-1, and so forth). So we went to consecutive page numbering. If
Chapter One was ten pages long (pages 5-14), Chapter Two would start on page 15
rather than page 2-1. This approach simplified document creation on the tools
we were then using, reduced the time it took to get a book in shape for
publication since we lost a lot of time fixing and refixing broken paging

Well, the users--bless their black flabby little hearts--did not appreciate our
innovation one little bit. It turns out that it helped them tremendously to
find things by reference to chapter-page sequences. Not only that, they
preferred Section Head Numbering (1.1, 2.3.1,, and so forth) to
Sections with no numbering. Again, it made references easier to make for them.
The nerve of these people! <g>

So, you might want to think about the needs of your readers when making this
decision. Personally, I will concede that your case makes sense, but if your
readers don't like it, you'll spend as much time explaning your reasoning as
you will doing anything useful.

Tom Murrell
Lead Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:tmurrell -at- columbus -dot- rr -dot- com
Personal Web Page -
Page Last Updated 02/11/02

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

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