Beginning topic titles with "How to..."?

Subject: Beginning topic titles with "How to..."?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Deborah Slutzky <Deborah -dot- Slutzky -at- datacore -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 09:38:46 -0500

Deborah Slutzky wondered: <<... how folks feel about beginning topic
titles with "How to..." I'm used to beginning them with a gerund...>>

Although the phrasing isn't wrong, there are two strikes against "how
to": First, it's two words longer than necessary. It's not the length
that's an issue, since deleting "how to" and adding "ing" to the verb
only saves you 3 to 4 characters. Instead, it's the need to mentally
prune out the two words. Again, not a huge concern, but why bother?

The large issue is that if you standardize on "how to X", all topics
begin with "how to", not with the verb. That looks really bad in a
table of contents because the repetition creates rivers of white
space and draws attention towards the repeating pattern and away from
the actual verb.

Gerunds have become the standard because they're simple,
straightforward, and effective. Why mess with success?

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Beginning topic titles with "How to...": From: Deborah Slutzky

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