Re: Numbering of Figures

Subject: Re: Numbering of Figures
From: Richard Lippincott <richard -dot- lippincott -at- ae -dot- ge -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 16:36:00 -0400

Mike Stockman asked:
>Why do people number figures and tables at all? As a user, I've never
>needed to use a list of figures or list of tables, and in the text,
>writing "The following window appears" or "This diagram indicates..." or
>"The following table shows the possible values for..." usually suffices.

Well, in our case...

I've just finished working on a 65 page procedure that is a -partial-
disassembly of an engine. There were about 15 figures associated with the
procedure, and most of the figures were used more than once. By the nature
of what we're illustrating, the figures are full-page size. And some of the
figures come in quick succession. If we say "The following figure...." the
user might say "Which one?" if the next three or four pages are various
un-numbered figures.

And because the figures are re-used, we need to number them so that when the
users are somewhere in the area of Figure 12 but we need to refer them back
to the same figures used at the start of the procedure, we can say "Refer to
Figure 1."

Now there are two logical solutions to this problem, even with full-page
art. One, simply repeat figures as needed. Two, solve the "quick succession"
problem by, if necessary, having only a few paragraphs of text followed
immediately by the figure. It probably would work, and it might even be more
usable than what we do now. Problem? Our contract with our customer has us
paid by the page. They'd look at this and say "You're intentionally
inflating the page count to jack up your price."

So, there we are. We do it this way because our customer wants it done that

>If the sole purpose of numbering figures/tables/etc. is to refer to them
>in text, a title, page number, or (in hypertext) direct link will work
>just as well, I think.

Well, our manuals go out both on CD and on paper. We haven't figured out how
to get the hyperlinks to work in the paper version. (And because we're
talking about aircraft engine maintenance, the users -do- want a paper copy
that they can plop open on the workbench.)

--Rick Lippincott
Saugus, MA

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