Re: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides

Subject: Re: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides
From: Julie Stickler <jstickler -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: tech2wr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2013 17:49:44 -0400

By all that is holy, if you're going to number headings (and I can
appreciate Fred's argument for numbers), limit the number of levels that
you have! At my last job we had numbered headings that went six, seven,
eight levels deep. I think I might have found one section that went to nine
levels. And it was not pretty.


On Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 5:38 PM, Fred Ridder <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com> wrote:

> Leonard Porello wrote:
>
> > Do you number down to the individual paragraph level? If not, how far
> down do you recommend for your purposes?
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com[mailto:
> techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of
> Fred Ridder
> > Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2:18 PM
> > To: Julie Stickler; tech2wr-l
> > Subject: RE: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical
> reference guides
> >
> > It's much easier, faster, and much less ambiguous to point the customer
> to Section 6.3.2 than to try to direct them to the third paragraph on page
> 89 or to the "Things to watch out for" subsection under the "Configuration
> options" section in the "Frumious interface" chapter.
>
>
> I do not number down to the individual paragraph level. I number headings
> rather than content paragraphs, so the real issue is how many levels of
> headings.
>
> My personal preferences is to stick to 3-4 levels of headings (plus an
> unnumbered "utility" heading that looks like a level 4 without the numbers
> and that does not show up in the ToC). When I encounter a document that
> has 5 or 6 (or even 7) levels of numbered headings I start looking to see
> whether the number of levels can be reduced. Sometimes one or more of the
> top-level divisions (chapters) cover too broad a subject and should be
> divided. Sometimes the problem is on the other end, with topics being
> divided with too fine a granularity (if you've got a series of headings
> with only one paragraph each, you should probably convert to a list with
> run-in heads, for example). And sometimes the problem is "do-nothing"
> headings in the middle of the hierarchy in some chapters. There have been
> cases where I've had to live with 5th-level headings in a few chapters, and
> one particularly complex interface specification where 6 levels were
> unavoidable, but 4 levels or fewer keeps me happy.
>
> -Fred Ridder
>
>
>


--
Julie Stickler
http://heratech.wordpress.com/
Blogging about Agile and technical writing
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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Use if xrefs in topic based or minimalist writing: From: Porrello, Leonard
Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides: From: Matt Gras
RE: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides: From: Erika Yanovich
Re: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides: From: Julie Stickler
RE: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides: From: Fred Ridder
RE: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides: From: Porrello, Leonard
RE: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides: From: Fred Ridder

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