RE: Chapter Numbers (revisited)

Subject: RE: Chapter Numbers (revisited)
From: Jean Hollis Weber <jean -at- jeanweber -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 09 Mar 2002 10:42:19 -0800

Yesterday I said,
"If it's going to be printed or distributed as PDF (a sequential file), I think chapter numbers are a good idea, because people are used to them and expect them."

I said that mainly because I couldn't remember seeing a book-like document that didn't have chapter numbers *and* that was well organized and "worked" for me. Upon reflection, I recalled some environmental impact statements and other reports that didn't have chapter numbers and didn't suffer in the least from the lack, but I wasn't thinking of them as "books" even though many of them were book-length.

Today I saw a "book" that worked well without chapter numbers and, in fact, might well have suffered if chapter numbers had been present. That book is the PDF User's Guide for The HyperText Studio. Each chapter after the Introduction is a clearly-labelled stand-alonge tutorial for one major output or feature of the program, and each chapter contains sections labelled "Lesson 1. xxxx" "Lesson 2. xxx" etc. The chapters aren't sequential; in many ways the book is like a collection of short documents.

So, as with most things in technical writing, the answer to Heidi's question is probably "it depends."

Regards, Jean
Jean Hollis Weber
mailto:jean -at- jeanweber -dot- com
The Technical Editors' Eyrie

At 02:40 PM 3/8/2002 -0600, Colonna, Heidi wrote:

... if there's a preference, chapter numbers or no
chapter numbers. I've always documented my books with chapter numbers, but
I'm wondering if that is really all that necessary anymore.
<from Heidi's previous message...>
A few other writers I've
talked with say they have eliminated chapter numbers entirely ...
Does anyone know if there's any studies or proof that it
is good/bad to have or not to have chapter numbers?

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