Re: Section Naming

Subject: Re: Section Naming
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 4 Sep 1996 07:17:53 PDT

>This illustrates the only problem I have with Section numbering.
>Sections are a collection of chapters. Sections are also numbered
>sub-sets of chapters. When I have a cross-reference to a numbered
>section, I don't want to use the word "section" because that refers to a
>different kind of entity. I don't want to say "paragraph", because that
>is not really correct either.

The way I do it, sections are subchapters, never superchapters.
The hierarchy is:

Title of the entire work
Book (Archaic) or Part

The usual way to divide a single volume into bigger-than-chapter-size
chunks is to label them "Part I," "Part II," etc. Chapter numbering
can be restarted or run straight through -- I prefer the latter.

When making references, references to entire chapters use the word
"chapter," but other references use the word "section," as in "see
chapter 3" -- but also "see section 3.1" or "see section"
I don't think it's a good idea to say, "see subsubsubsubsection"

References to other parts of the document get a "See section 3.1 in Part I"
reference, which I find a little over-long, but there aren't many of these
if your partitioning was done sensibly. (References ought to be
ignorable to a reader who is reading straight through. Some people
like bric-a-brac in their references. They will take one of my
"See section 3.1.1" references, which imply quite clearly that section
3.1.1 discusses the last concept I uttered in greater detail, and
expand it out to WAR AND PEACE: "refer to section 3.1.1 for a
more complete discussion of yadda yadda yadda." I find this pompous,
bloated, too large for the reader's eye to skip easily, and totally
devoid of value of any kind.)

One thing I really hate is the use of fake section references: "See
'How to Find Info When Section Numbers Have Been Gratuitously Omitted'
in the 'Attempting to Use Our Manual' section of the 'Congratulations,
Sucker, for Buying Our Product' chapter of this book." If you're
going to nuke section numbers, nuke them, and realize that you can
no longer point out the document hierarchy in references. Just say,
"See 'Living in a Non-Hierarchical World' on page 8."

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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