To number or not to number

Subject: To number or not to number
From: John Sturman <jss -at- ATINY -dot- NY -dot- APERTUS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996 11:08:05 +0100

Hi everybody,

I would like some feedback about what you all think about the use of
numbering sections in computer-related technical documentation.

For as long as I have been in my present position (3 years) my department
has been using section numbering in our documentation sets (chapter 2,
section 2.1, section 2.1.1, etc.). We have a new head writer who wants to
change all that. I would like to hear from as many of you as I can about
your opinions regarding the use of section numbering in computer
documentation.

This writer asserts that numbering section numbering makes a
product look more complicated. We are working towards making our product
appear more user friendly. None of our direct competitors are using
section numbering as far as we can tell. I have looked through a huge
amount of manuals looking to see what other companies are doing. Most
are not using numbering.

My arguments for the use of numbering are that 1)it allows for easier
random access to information in a document because it shows the hierarchy
of sections in relation to each other so the reader can find their
location in reference to their desired destination. I also think that
having section numbers makes cross-referencing much easier to implement
and read. We do a lot of cross-referencing to other parts of our
documentation, so this aspect is pretty important.

Please make sure your comments are sent directly to me, whether or not
you put them up to the group. I will read everything you write and
respond where appropriate. All the documents are written and published
in FrameMaker 4.0 or 5.0 on a PC and a Mac. So updating them to anew
style is a small matter. The bigger issue is obviously the pros and cons
of doing this drastic change. Needless to say this issue is creating
quite a polarity in our group so I am interested in a quick resolution so
we can move on.

Thank you all in advance for your input.


******************************************
** John Sturman **
** Documentation Coordinator **
** Apertus Technologies Incorporated **
** New York Office **
** (212) 560-7847 **
** john -dot- sturman -at- apertus -dot- com **
******************************************

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