Re: section numbering

Subject: Re: section numbering
From: "Wilcox, John (Contractor)" <wilcoxj -at- WDNI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 11:20:00 -0800

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From: Matt Ceglia
To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
Subject: section numbering
Date: Friday, March 14, 1997 10:22AM

I've been assigned to redesign our existing documention, and our
contract writer (who will be doing most of the rewriting) has strongly
suggested that we use a section-numbering scheme to facilitate
cross-referencing. The manual is a 150-page reference guide for a
networking hardware/software product. It is targeted to a fairly
nontechnical audience.

Although I'm not necessarily opposed to section numbering, I don't see a
lot of it anymore. Are there any guidelines for determining whether
these numbers are worthwile? Does anyone have strong opinions for or
against section numbering?
-------------------------------
I have both. As with most aspects of writing, it depends on the
audience. I formerly worked for a company that produced networking
software that ran on UNIX boxes. I found section numbering to be an
easy and effective way to cross-reference long manuals, and it went over
well because I was writing to sysadmins who were used to seeing such in
UNIX manuals -- like those anal-retentive people at Sun. Just kidding,
Bob!

Now my audience is foresters, mostly. And the manuals and chapters are
shorter, so it's easier to find a section title. (I hate those
Microsoft manuals where they say, "See XYZ Section Title" and you have
to flip through the pages looking at every section head until you find
it.) Besides, I used Ventura aforetime, which did section numbering
effortlessly, but now I'm stuck with Word.

However, over both methods I prefer to use only page numbers in cross
references. "See page nn" is by far the easiest to follow, IMO.


Regards,

John Wilcox, Documentation Specialist
Timberlands Information Services
Weyerhaeuser
WWC 2E2
Tacoma, WA 98477-0001
206-924-7972
wilcoxj -at- wdni -dot- com

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