Re: Numbering of Figures

Subject: Re: Numbering of Figures
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 14:15:27 -0400

SIANNON -at- VISUS -dot- JNJ -dot- com wrote:

>I'd really like to know
>_why_ you choose the method(s) you do.
>Three numbering practices I've seen, in order of frequency, include:
>1 -- Consecutive numbering, as was indicated by MN Mary's comment, I've
>seen in several books.

Let's assume for the moment that this method can be implemented easily in your production environment, that is, you can set up an autonumbered stream for the figures, a separate autonumbered stream for the tables, and a bulletproof, automatically updated, way to call out the figures and tables in the text.

Given that assumption, I think this method is suitable for a one-off edition of a bound book. If you have any inkling that you are creating something that might be repurposed later or that is going to be continuously maintained as separate chapters, I'd avoid it. I think you're asking for trouble. What happens when you issue it as a collection of one-chapter PDFs and a chapter gets updated?

>2 -- Chapter-based numbering, where the figure is numbered consecutively
>within the chapter (e.g. Figure 2-36), I've seen mostly in scholastic

That's my first choice. Keep the table numbering separate from the figure numbering. (I've also seen them intermingled, with the tables captioned "Figure" so-and-so; but it was distracting and confusing.)

This method makes maintenance and repurposing much simpler. Even if the chapter numbers change, figure n-3 is still figure n-3, so once two people are clear that they are reading the same chapter _title_, they can discuss the figures by their numbers.

>3 -- And I've also seen section-based numbering, where the number of a
>contained figure matches the numbered subsection within which it appears,
>with consecutive letters appended if there happens to be more than one
>figure in a section (e.g. Figures 2.1.2a and 2.1.2b), or if the figure is
>broken across pages (as with some flowcharts).

I've seen this, too; and I think it is confusing to the reader--numbering the figure to match the section, that is. If you have a figure that is composed of multiple parts or that breaks across pages, it is still perfectly reasonable to use a, b, etc., even with method 2.


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