Re: Pros or Cons of Section Numbering

Subject: Re: Pros or Cons of Section Numbering
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 13:44:17 -0700

At 01:01 PM 8/29/96 -0700, Mary Anthony wrote:

>We are using a new section numbering scheme in our templates -- something
>similar to the following:


>and so forth. My personal opinion regarding section numbering, is that it
>is unnecessary for commercial documentation, that indentation or font
>changes supply adequate visual cues for readers.


And the answer is...

It depends on the users!

But, you knew that, didn't you??? ;-)

In general, the more technical the audience, and the more technical
and cross-referenced the manual, the more "user-friendly" section
numbers become.

Non-technical users can be intimidated by section numbers because
they do make a lot of noise. And if a manual is not heavily cross-
referenced, the reasons for section numbering disappear.

But, for a very technical manual with lots of cross-references,
"See section 1.2.2 for more information on the kill switch" is far
more usable than "see the kill switch section in Chapter 1" and
head and shoulders above "see kill switch, also in this chapter".

One solution I've found that cuts down on the noise but provides
the convenience of numbered sections is, if level 1 is the chapter
number, to number level 2 (1.0, 1.1 ...) and level 3 (1.1.1, 1.1.2 ...)
but to omit the numbers from level 4 heads.

BTW, when I start numbering at 1.0, the zero heading is always the

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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