Re: "Nested" Headings

Subject: Re: "Nested" Headings
From: Janice Gelb <janiceg -at- marvin -dot- eng -dot- sun -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2002 09:13:49 -0800 (PST)

In article 041CBE9B6D95DF459697A8F7BD59859AD04686 -at- munich-nt2 -dot- crownlift -dot- de, NSteinl -at- crownlift -dot- de ("Steinl, Norbert") writes:
>But now back to the topic. IMHO we have to consider the
>different types of documents we are writing, before we declare nested
>headers as obsolete. For software documentation it might be ok to drop
>nested headers at all. But I have never done software documentation.
>I could not imagine to get a clear, structured and readable
>sevice manual for a fork lift truck with 500+ pages without nested
>headers. Although we tried some different approaches, none
>of the other methods to structure a manual logically and to break
>down complex instructions from top to the bottom really worked for
>the user. We are limited by the use of colours (only one possible)
>and bound to hardcopies.
>Might be, the acceptance of nested headers also depends on cultural
>differences. German technicians are accustomed to nested headers in
>technical manuals.

Both these points -- that you should consider the type of
information and that you should consider the user's experience --
are good ones.

However, you also need to consider efficient presentation, and
levels of indentation often mean, as others have pointed out,
very narrow text blocks which are difficult to read, and a
very busy page, which can be distracting. There is another
option, which we use for certain service and training manuals,
and that is to hierarchically number the heads (2, 2.1, 2.1.1, etc.).

For our software documentation, we use different sizes of heads
and for head4s, italics as well.

Janice Gelb | Just speaking for me, not Sun.
janice -dot- gelb -at- eng -dot- sun -dot- com |

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