Re: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides

Subject: Re: Numbered versus unnumbered heads in very technical reference guides
From: John Posada <jposada99 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Julie Stickler <jstickler -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2013 14:13:58 -0400

Put the numbers if the numbers have a purpose. Do people ever say "See
section 3.0.1 for ..." You can create the TOC without the numbers.


On Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 4:33 PM, Julie Stickler <jstickler -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> From what I've been told, numbered headings are a legacy from the days when
> documentation lived in three ring binders. And when a documentation
> updated happened, it was "replace section 5.1.3 with this new section
> 5.1.3." Which seems to me to be the only benefit of numbered headings.
>
> Leonard asked a good question. How would the numbers help the user? In my
> case, they don't.
>
> My personal preference is NOT to number headings. But that may be in part
> because I have a touch of dyslexia when it comes to holding a random string
> of numbers in my head. It doesn't matter if you're writing print(able)
> documentation or online Help, I find that having numbers in the headings
> can hinder navigation as much as it helps. If I'm looking for topic
> "2.1.3.4 Configuration Settings", my eyes will be scanning for
> "Configuration Settings" not the string of numbers. And since the TOC pane
> in a PDF or Help is often narrow, if the first several characters of a
> heading are numbers, it makes it harder for me to navigate the TOC, because
> I'm looking for the words, not the numbers. If the TOC pane doesn't
> resize, you've made the navigation almost impossible for me because I'm
> trying to navigate a sea of similar numbers.
>
> When I'm writing print docs, I try to avoid headings that wrap in my TOC.
> Again, if the first several characters of my heading are a string of
> numbers, that makes it a challenge to keep my headings to a single line.
>
> YMMV, I know there are probably industries that still require numbers in
> headings. I don't happen to work in one.
>
>
> On Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 8:14 AM, Erika Yanovich <ERIKA_y -at- rad -dot- com> wrote:
>
> > With some already good answers being given, reference material is usually
> > arranged alphabetically or by meaningful categories and alphabetically
> > inside categories. The only value numbers have is if they appear in the
> > system, for example error message number.
> > HTH,
> > Erika
> >
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>
> --
> Julie Stickler
> http://heratech.wordpress.com/
> Blogging about Agile and technical writing
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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

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