RE: Paragraph numbering - industry standard?

Subject: RE: Paragraph numbering - industry standard?
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2005 09:18:35 -0400

bounce-techwr-l-106467 -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com wrote on 08/03/2005 02:45:25 PM:
> Again, I don't see the point.

Know what? Firstly, as a technical writer it's not really our place to
"see the point". We have to give the customer/audience what they want.

What I find really ridiculous in these oft repeated rants against
paragraph numbering is that it is being done on the basis of design and
not communication/utility. Additionally, the griping is being done in an
age where adding the numbering is child's play once a template is set up.

If there is going to be ANY discussion about a document, numbering is
ESSENTIAL. It is precise and easy to enter in minutes of meetings.

If the document is going to be produced in many formats, identical
numbering in each format will provide a definite link between the two.

And if the document is ever printed, numbering gives the user quick access
to all information in the document without having to always go to an index
or remember page numbers. And an index instead? ROTFL! If you can't be
bothered to put the TINY effort into numbering the doc, what are the
chance the effort will be expended to index properly?

If the numbering also has technical meaning, it is also invaluable in
quickly navigating to relevant sections. Even without technical meaning,
it quickly identifies a paragraphs relationship to other sections. If
similar subjects are consistently broken into the same structure, finding
specific information about a new subject is as simple as scanning for the

Even in the absence of consistent structure or technical meaning numbering
can be invaluable. The difference between 1.2.1 and is obvious. In
an unnumbered document, slight changes in heading size and a variation in
layout is not necessarily obvious.

So, some think numbering is "ugly" and a hold over. I think unnumbered
docs are unwieldy to use and produced by people putting style over
substance, too lazy or incompetent to number, or who don't want their
organisational failures to be made clear by numbering.

Eric L. Dunn
Senior Technical Writer


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RE: Paragraph numbering - industry standard?: From: Claire Conant

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