General formatting question for a TOC?

Subject: General formatting question for a TOC?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Tammy Van Boening <Tammy -dot- VanBoening -at- healthlanguage -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 09:47:45 -0500

Tammy Van Boening wondered: <<when I create any TOC ... I have always
been rigorously edited to include at least the first two heading
levels of your heading styles, and sometimes the first three. I have
HeadingLevel1/Heading 1 aligned to the left and subsequent heading
levels indented accordingly - Heading2 Levels slightly indented
beneath Heading1 Levels, and Heading3 Levels slightly indented
beneath Heading 2 levels. I don't go for a bunch of different fonts,
bolding, etc. The fonts are all the same for the TOC entries, just
different in indentation and font size. >>

That's a perfectly acceptable way to proceed. Think of the purpose of
the TOC: to show people the structure and contents of the book so
they know what the parts are and how they relate to each other.
Except for very simplistic chapters or sections, you need to present
as many headings as necessary to accomplish this -- at least the
first three levels of heading in a complex document because that's
the information readers will use to find areas of interest in the
book and get to those areas in a hurry.

If you're a minimalist, simple indentation is all you need to make
the structure clear. There's nothing wrong with adding slight
formatting variations on top of that (e.g., bolding the level 1
headings), but that violates the minimalist rule of thumb: apply only
the minimum formatting necessary to communicate the differences
between levels. A little "color" won't hurt, but once you start
adding dozens of formatting variations, you get into the realm of
useless and possibly harmful visual clutter.

<<However, an edit that I received recently indicated that the
editor's (i.e., developer's) preference was to put in only Heading 1
levels - it looked different/funky to him to have more than one level
in the TOC. >>

Heh. Have you told him yet that in your professional opinion as a
programmer, you think his coding is different/funky? <grin>

Deeds speek louder than words. Create two TOCs, one with only the L1
heads and one with the top three levels. Give him the first one and
ask him to find a specific topic (described by a level 3 heading) and
go right to that topic without having to flip pages. Next, give him
the full TOC and ask him to do the same task. Repeat a couple of
times. He'll get the point.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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General formatting question for a TOC: From: Tammy Van Boening

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