RE: Paragraph numbering - industry standard?

Subject: RE: Paragraph numbering - industry standard?
From: "Jonathan West" <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2005 11:45:02 +0100

I think that with paragraph numbering you need to consider what you are
trying to achieve.

Fundamentally, the paragraph numbers (or or accurately, clause numbers) do
not add anything to the meaning of the text, and so it is reasonable to ask
whether it is helpful for any specific kind of document to be numbered in
this way. I can think of a number of cases where it would.

1. If the document of a type or length that it is useful to be able to
quickly refer to a portion of it as "clause 3.2.1" rather than "The section
'Repairing left-handed widgets' on page 7."

2. Where a document (or a group of documents) includes a number of
cross-references to specific items, and where it is necessary for the clear
meaning of the document that those cross-references are precisely defined.

Where organisations decide that they need to use paragraph numbering,
occasionally they can produce quite elaborate rules regarding the structure
and numbering of the document. For a single document, this might be thought
of as overkill, but if you have a large number of related documents,
imposing a common structure on them may be useful in a number of ways - for
instance to make it easier for the authors to ensure that they have not
forgotten anything that needs to be written, and making it easier for
readers to find their way around the documents because they have a common

An example of such a set of rules is available for free from the British
Standards Institute, BS 0 "A Standard for Standards" describes the rules
surrounding the preparation and content of British Standards. Part 1
describes general principles, Part 2 the committe procedures, and Part 3 is
the actual drafting rules controlling structure and numbering.

BS 0:1997 "A standard for standards"

In past years, I used to be heavily involved in the writing of British and
international standards in the field of telecommunications, and I found that
the discipline of having to meet these drafting rules was very useful,
especially when it was necessary to prevent a committe from agree a form of
words that was so vague that everyone was able to agree them because
everyone was able to put their own different and incompatible meaning on

Jonathan West

Jonathan West


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RE: Paragraph numbering - industry standard?: From: eric . dunn

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