RE: Tables inside numbered lists

Subject: RE: Tables inside numbered lists
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
To: <Christian -dot- Walters -at- cox -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 9 Dec 2006 23:17:33 -0800

Christian -dot- Walters -at- cox -dot- com wrote:

> I've got a stubborn project manager

Stubbornness is apparently the least of her deficiencies.

> [Instead of numbering Step 6's sub-steps "1, 2, 3" and
> calling the next step "Step 7",] this project manager is
> insisting on:
> 6. Continue with the following:
> --------------------------------------------------
> | To... | Do this... |
> --------------------------------------------------
> | Some action | Some step |
> --------------------------------------------------
> | Some action | 7. Step one |
> | | 8. Step two |
> | | 9. Step three |
> --------------------------------------------------
> | Some action | Some step |
> --------------------------------------------------
> 10. Next step.
> So. Should I let her have her way?

You're kidding, right?

> are there studies or anything I can show her besides my
> insistence?

You could give her other examples of numbering
hierarchies, like chapter and verse in the Bible,
apartment-building addresses and apartment numbers,
etc. You could also point out that hierarchical
numbering will allow you to revise the instructions
at some point in the future -- adding or deleting
sub-steps, or replacing a list of sub-steps with
"Perform Procedure xyz (see page nn for details)" --
without having to renumber every major step and
sub-step following the change.

I assume that she believes readers will be confused
if they're asked to perform steps that aren't labeled
strictly sequentially. If that's so, you might want
to ask what you should do for the procedures that don't
have sub-steps -- the ones you've called "Some step" --
or for tables that have multiple procedures with sub-
steps. Should they all be numbered sequentially?
Point out that when readers choose one of the actions
in the table, they'll still find gaps in the step
numbers they follow.

If all else fails, suggest labeling the sub-steps
"a, b, c" instead of "1, 2, 3"... Maybe she can live
with that compromise while you look for a better job.



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