RE: Scientfically numbered documents (Gov. manuals)

Subject: RE: Scientfically numbered documents (Gov. manuals)
From: "Jonathan West" <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 20:28:47 -0000

Hi Margie

> Need some advice ...
> When writing a document, which is scientifically numbered, does
> each heading
> need an introductory paragraph before having the next subnumber
> ... e.g., if
> I have roman "I" doesn't it need a paragraph/sentence that introduces 1.1
> and 1.2 ... doesn't 1.1 need an intro paragraph/sentence before 1.1.1 and
> 1.1.2
> I've always written with the introductory paragraph ... but that
> "necessity"
> has been called into question

The drafting rules for standards at the British Standards Institute
specifically say that you should *not* have text like this.

1 Heading 1
Some introductory text
1.1 Heading level 2
Some text
1.2 Another heading 2
Some text

Specifically, the text between 1 and 1.1 should not exist, unless it is an
informative note which makes no difference to the overall content and
meaning of the document.

They call this "hanging text". The reason they disapprove of it is that, if
you make a reference to clause 1 from elsewhere in the document, it is
unclear whether you are referring just to that text, or to clause 1 and all
its subclauses.

Where there is no hanging text, it is entirely clear that a reference to
clause 1 *must* include the subclauses, since there isn't anything else

> Also ... what is the rule for numbered headings not being "orphaned". By
> that I mean, can you have a 1.1 without a 1.2? I've always contended that
> there need to be at least 2 or it really shouldn't be broken out as a
> separate item.

If you eliminate hanging text, it then becomes clear that it is pointless to
have only one subclause below a clause, you might as well eliminate the
unnecessary heading.

Sometimes, the content of hanging text is important, in which case, make it
a subclause of its own, and make the heading title "General" or
"Introduction" or something like that.

I could wish that some other standards organisations followed drafting rules
as carefull, it would eliminate a lot of errors and ambiguities in their
documents! :-(

Jonathan West

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Scientfically numbered documents (Gov. manuals): From: Cowan, Margie

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