Re: Table of contents for figures/tables

Subject: Re: Table of contents for figures/tables
From: "<Pam Owen>" <powen -at- MAIL2 -dot- LMI -dot- ORG>
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 1995 08:49:20 EST

Geoff Hart writes:


>How do you index figures that have no formal
>captions without going back and adding (often
>unnecessary) titles to each figure? Best I can
>come up with is a visual index: provide a
>thumbnail sketch of each figure on the pages
>following the text table of contents. Any better

I think in any large document, you need to caption figures. Otherwise,
how are readers supposed to find a particular figure? I also can't
imagine a figure that doesn't need a title, if, for no other reason,
it *can* be indexed or put in a figures list. My experience has been
that most people who create figures, if they don't have a separate
title for a figure, imbed the title in the figure - you just need to
extract it. Once you've created a title, indexing the figure should be

The thumbnail sketch idea is intriguing - I've never considered doing
that. However, readers that are not familiar with the document and are
looking for a particular topic may not even look in a figures or
tables list, or even the TOC. When I'm in a hurry and want to extract
some information from a manual, I go straight to the index and am very
POed when I can't find what I want there.

This brings up another pet peeve of mine - using unfamiliar jargon in
the index. For example, if you're not familiar with Ami Pro, would you
ever look up "SmartIcon" to find out about buttons on button bars,
when most developers call them "buttons"? The whole point of a manual
is to help someone who may be unfamiliar with a system find out what
they want to know as quickly as possible, not introduce a new user to
jargon you've developed for marketing reasons. If you've cleverly
named your buttons "SmartIcons," fine - just have a cross-reference in
your index that says "Buttons - see SmartIcons." I often work in Word,
WordPerfect, and Ami Pro (as well as various mail, graphics, Internet,
and scheduling packages) all in the same day. While I'm expert in the
first two and rapidly learning Ami Pro, I sometimes forget the naming
conventions each uses for the same features or tasks. Nothing drives
me crazy easier than when I'm on deadline and I can't figure out how
to do a task because the index in the user manual is obtuse or just
plain doesn't contain entries for what I need to know. While I think
new should try to at least look at every page in the manual to know
what's there and familiarize themselves with the system's own peculiar
terminology, sometimes I forget or just don't have the time to peruse
a new manual.

Pam Owen
Nighthawk Communications
Reston, VA
Nighthawk1 -at- aol -dot- com, or powen -at- lmi -dot- org

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