Re: Why a Table of Figures?

Subject: Re: Why a Table of Figures?
From: Blair John <Blair -dot- John -dot- MM5 -at- MACMAIL1 -dot- NB -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 10:01:25 -0800

Stuart Burnfield wrote:

> Is a Table of Figures necessary?

> Usually a Table of Contents or Index is meant to help you navigate to
> places of interest in the text -- the TOC to a heading or sub-heading,
> the Index to one or more occurrences of a key word or phrase. When would
> the reader need to look up the name and page number of a screen dump?

> If I left out the Table of Figures, would the reader be worse off? Does
> it matter what the figures are? all screen dumps? all diagrams? some of
> each?

Some sources do suggest incorporating a "Table of Figures" or a "List of
Figures" at the end of the "Table of Contents" (some even impose rules such as
to include the figure list IF the document contains a half-dozen or more
illustrations, drawings, or other graphic aids).

As general practice, I've always listed both figures and tables in the TOC. It
is, after all, a table of CONTENTS. Figures and tables are an important part
of the document's content (otherwise they shouldn't be there, right?). The
reader may only need to reference a particular table or figure (even if it is a
screen dump to compare what "is" and what the document suggests "should be")
and the TOC would be a logical place to go to find the page reference.

I think it's good practice to list all figures and tables (in that order) in
the TOC but not necessarily to draw attention to them by giving them a separate
heading that carries the same weight as "Table of Contents" (such as "List of
Figures"). Just use "Figures" and "Tables" as headers to the lists embedded as
part of the overall TOC.

John Blair
john -dot- blair -at- nb -dot- rockwell -dot- com

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