RE: Heading Hierarchy for a Complex Manual

Subject: RE: Heading Hierarchy for a Complex Manual
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2005 10:45:33 -0800


I ran into this myself at my current job. I used "Xerox Publishing
Standards", *Xerox Press*, NYC, NY, 1988 (ISBN 0-8230-5964-2) as my
"visual" style guide. This book a well-known style reference, and has
the advantage that it spells out visual styles in unmatched breadth and
depth. It defines the placement, font, and spacing for headings down to
level *9*. I think that's a bit extreme, though.

I previously worked for Oracle, which defined headings down to level 4
(as I remember). Oracle uses mil-spec numbering, probably because they
publish their manuals online in HTML and PDF format. They don't use
page-number references. Their standard is to use hyperlinks to sections.
The link text is the full section heading including the heading number.

I am not entirely comfortable with mil-spec numbering. For Oracle's very
technical and extremely large-scale products, it makes sense. It may
also be useful for a large, complex, technically-oriented manual such as

I also think that you have to target styles to the presentation media. A
style that works in print/PDF may not be as acceptable in HTML, and may
not work at all for "online help".

As a lone technical writer in a fast-paced startup, I have learned to
make a reasonably good choice and then implement it quickly.


Joe Malin
Technical Writer
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-216553 -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-216553 -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Kirk
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 9:16 AM
Subject: Heading Hierarchy for a Complex Manual

I am in the process of editing a very long and complex manual. I am
writing the style guide, and I am on the section on heading hierarchy.
Except for the unwieldy APA guidelines, I haven't found any guidance on
the subject. I have the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines, but I don't
see any examples or suggestions that relate to what I am doing. But I
used what was in the Chicago Manual of Style anyway and came up with
these levels of heading (this is for an online manual):

. The first level heading will be Verdana, 14 pt., upper and lower
case, underlined and centered.

. The second level will be Verdana, 14 pt., centered, uppercase and

. The third level will be Verdana, 12 pt., flush left, uppercase and
lowercase and underlined.

. The fourth level heading will be Verdana, 12 pt., one tab from left
and capitalized as it would be in a sentence.

. The fifth level of heading will be Verdana 12 pt., two tabs from the
left and underlined. End this heading with a period and begin the first
sentence of the body text for this heading on the same line as the


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