RE: Subject: Re: Consistency in headings

Subject: RE: Subject: Re: Consistency in headings
From: "Nandini Garud" <nandini -at- resonate -dot- com>
To: "Geoff Hart" <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 17:47:40 -0800

Great point Geoff! Hat off to you. I am sold on non-numbered headings and
gerunds. Right after I hit the send key, I wondered what four levels of
Headings were doing in the documentation. And in FAQs, as well as tables,
that common denominator, "How do I", needs to be chopped off. I mercilessly
strip repetitive text in front of bulleted list items.

No, Techwhirllers, don't shudder, I don't have any intention of creating
headings such as "I want to...". It was just a wild thought. Getting too
creative here.

Thank you for your quick response.


-----Original Message-----
From: Geoff Hart [mailto:ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca]
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2006 5:24 PM
To: TECHWR-L; Nandini Garud
Subject: Subject: Re: Consistency in headings

Nandini Garud wondered: <<... which kind of headings are in vogue right
now? ... Numbered 2.3.5 with indented text that makes page narrow, or
non-numbered which guides through font size and placement of

Numbered headings have their place; for example, lawyers who need to
memorize complex legislation and engineers who need to memorize
technical specifications are familiar with this style and seem to use
it effectively.
<snip> In short, the number tells us nothing that
the formatting as a level three heading tells us.
<snip> My take on this is that in most cases, any design that requires more
than 4 levels is probably deeply flawed and in need of simplification.
Why? Because most people won't be able to reconstruct where they are in
the heading hierarchy at 4 levels, let alone with more levels. And if
you can design based on 4 levels, you don't need numbers to communicate
the hierarchy.

<<I always felt the gerunds (mnemonic: g at the end) such as opening,
connecting gave an illusion of action.>>

That's why they work so well.

<<"How to open"... construct is wordy and takes more real estate.
However, these can be easily ported into FAQs.>>

Into bad FAQs, perhaps. If you have 20 "how to" headings, how do
readers skim through them efficiently? You're forcing the readers to
read 40 extra words (20 headings times two useless words); the gerund
form takes up only 1 word ("creating...") rather than 3 words ("how to
create"), so it's more efficient. If the whole purpose of the FAQ is
"how do I?" then why is it necessary to repeat the "how do I" for each

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Subject: Re: Consistency in headings: From: Geoff Hart

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