TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:RE: Using tables for content From:Paul Hanson <twer_lists_all -at- hotmail -dot- com> To:<techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Thu, 24 Oct 2013 11:48:29 -0500
What is your delivery format? PDF? HTML? Something else?
Speaking about Word docs, I worked for a company that had numbered
procedures within a three column table. The first column was an empty square
(the thought being that the user could print the procedure and check the box
when they were done), the second column was a numbered step, and the third
the actual content.
I remember this time in my career with fondness because as I began the
massive task of converting that Word content to HTML (during the WinHelp to
HTML conversion), I was also learning HTML and about this amazing technique
for controlling format called "Cascading Style Sheets." With the three
column format, I learned that you couldn't do a continuous OL within a table
without adding start="N" <ol start="2"> so, essentially, it was manually
numbering. I also learned that code like this:
<p>1. Complete the ....</p>
<p>2. Complete the ....</p>
Should be rewritten to:
<li>Complete the </li>
And if I did that, adding a step prior to step 1 in a long procedure would
not require manual renumbering. All of this was also at the time when the
tables in the Word docs were being used to control formatting. The big buzz
about *not* using tables to control formatting was deafening at the time.
Around this time, I talked to Dave Gash @ WinWriters in 2004 in Boston about
using tables in documentation and the takeaway from that discussion was that
if your content is tabular, then yes, use a table. If it's not, don't use
All that to say I do not have procedures in tables in any content I work
with on a regular basis.