Section Numbering

Subject: Section Numbering
From: CARYN_RIZELL -at- HP-ROSEVILLE-OM2 -dot- OM -dot- HP -dot- COM
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 08:44:30 -0700

Item Subject: cc:Mail Text
I am a strong opponent of using section numbering. These days, with
sophisticated tools like FrameMaker, you can easily do
cross-references to a particular page or paragraph, so you don't need
to use the section numbers for reference.

If you are using Word, then you can't do this, so section numbering
might be needed. But with FrameMaker, you can see "see the kill
switch section on page xxx", instead of having to just refer to a

Caryn Rizell
caryn_rizell -at- hp -dot- com

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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