Re. Numbered headings

Subject: Re. Numbered headings
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 12:33:51 LCL

The discussion of using numbered headings (e.g., 1.0 Introduction, 1.1
Subintroduction, 1.1.1 Sub-subintroduction) raises another issue: I
personally hate this format because it communicates very poorly to me:
for example, is section 14.7.6 really clearer than "Results: Test
subject number 7: Test parameter number 6"? The numbers simply don't
seem to communicate any better than well-organized, well-chunked,
well-designed non-numbered headings, and always lack the verbal
context that makes headings useful; if the heading contains this
context, then aren't the numbers redundant? In some cases, numbering
simply appears to be an excuse for lazy design... But this is a very
subjective opinion, since I've never produced a thousand-page
specification document that nominally required this structure.

What I'd like to know is if anyone out there feels the opposite way.
What advantages does section numbering have over doing away with the
numbers? Are there any cases where more standard heading conventions
simply don't work? (I expect the MILSPEC folks will have a lot to say
about this...) Can you justify the numbering approach given that many
LARGE reference manuals, such as the Interleaf docs I used many years
ago, didn't use this system?

--Geoff Hart #8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of
our reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.


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