Re: Why a Table of Figures

Subject: Re: Why a Table of Figures
From: Jim Grey <jimgrey -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 08:26:00 EST

Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au> has a burning question:
>Is a Table of Figures necessary?
>When would the reader need to look up the name and page number of a
>screen dump?

I have yet to see a useful Table of Figures. This doesn't mean there
*isn't* a time when such a table might be useful -- only that I've never
seen one. Moreover, I can't think of a time when a Table of Figures would
be useful.

In a previous job, the existing standard was to list a Table of Contents,
then a Table of Figures, then a Table of Tables. This front matter could,
in larger manuals, fill dozens of pages. I had several opportunities to
survey users about their usage of our manuals' navigational tools, and none
of them reported ever using the Table of Figures or the Table of Tables.
With this information in hand, I changed our documentation standard to do
away with those tables.

We ended up returning the Tables of Figures to many of our manuals soon
thereafter, however. The company's biggest customer was General Telephone.
Muckety-mucks at GTE noticed that the Tables of Figures had disappeared, and
had a cow on the *possibility* that this might confuse their employees. We
told them that our research showed that users did not use Tables of Figures;
GTE told us that they wanted the Tables of Figures back anyway, because
someone *might* want to look up a figure. This issue ended up causing GTE
to delay a big payment, so the Tables of Figures went back into the manuals
we sent them.


jim grey |beebeebumbleandthestingersmottthehoopleraycharlessingers
jimgrey -at- iquest -dot- net|lonniemackandtwangin'eddiehere'smyringwe'regoingsteadyta

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