Re: Chapter Titles in Tech. Documentation
What's the word on using gerunds in headings in technical documentation?
I think the rationale is that, if you use a verb form for the heading, it makes you organize in terms of tasks, instead of pieces of the interface or the hardware.
we're finding that this sometimes makes the
headings needlessy cumbersome. There are times when the gerund isn't
really what's important ("Setting Post-Audiotex Behavior," for example.
Who cares about "setting? in this case? It could be any other similar word
like "determining," "assigning," etc.)
I've often thought the same thing. At times, using a gerund simply seems a convention, followed for no particular reason.
But, at other times, I've noticed that,when the gerund seems cumbersome or unnecessary, it's because the wording has the wrong emphasis - it's focused back on the interface or hardware.
Possibly, the example you gave is one of these cases.From the heading, I have no idea why should anyone be interested in "Setting Post-Audiotex Behavior" in the first place. What do people accomplish by setting this behavior? That's what a heading should explain,at least ideally.
If I already had some knowledge of the product, I would probably know, or could make a good guess, but otherwise the heading doesn't mean much. That could mean that it doesn't convey much to someone scanning for information. In other words, the heading may not serve its intended purpose.
Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177
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