Re: Chapter Titles in Tech. Documentation

Subject: Re: Chapter Titles in Tech. Documentation
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 19:30:18 -0700

johanne -dot- cadorette -at- locusdialog -dot- com wrote:

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

"If blame is relative, then one of the important questions in society becomes: who controls the blame patterns?"
-Utah Phillips (in concert)

Check out the new release of RoboDemo, our easy-to-use tutorial software.
Plus, buy RoboHelp Office in August and save $100 with our mail-in rebate.
Get details and download free trial versions at

TECHWR-L is supported by ads and sponsorships...and donations.
You can help maintain the TECHWR-L community with donations

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Re: Tech writer as "user"
Next by Author: Re: What do you charge for Web site content?
Previous by Thread: Chapter Titles in Tech. Documentation
Next by Thread: Re: Chapter Titles in Tech. Documentation

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads