Re: Numbering Sections for Flexibility

Subject: Re: Numbering Sections for Flexibility
From: DURL <durl -at- BUFFNET -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 09:24:35 -0500

Excellent point. I wonder if industry standards (or habit?) is
relevant here.
IME, writing procedure manuals, or operation manuals, for plant
operations (manufacuturing, utility operations, other production
processes) is customarily done with numbers. People have a comfort level
with 1, 2, 3, 4. The familiarity makes it easy to find information.
The subheading levels--the 1.1, 1.2 and so on make it easy to find
info, and the the length of the subheading gives a clue to the kind of
info (ex. X.3 is always the procedure section, regardless of topic). The
numbering also gives you a way to number the figures (relevant subsection
number with a hyphenated suffix denoting fig: 1.3.2-1 = chapter 1,
procedure 2, illustration).
I agree, though: beyond four places, or at most five for the
figure extension, it's a mess.
Online only makes sense if people have a computer on their desk.
In a production environment, they probably don't.

Mary Durlak Erie Documentation Inc.
East Aurora, New York (near Buffalo)
durl -at- buffnet -dot- net

On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, Alan Sismey wrote:

> A number of different issues are raised here, but my suggestion is to NOT
> use section numbers at all.
> I am responsible for the maintenance of over 100 documents (some with 200
> plus pages) and none of these have section numbers. I believe that the
> documents are much easier to use without section numbers and I have not had
> any complaints from the users. Each type of document has a standard format
> with 3 or 4 heading levels.
> We have other documents (not my responsibility) which do use section
> numbers and you get things like "" - I really don't think that
> section numbering adds any value to a document.
> Some of the issues:
> I assume that you are using a word processing package with heading levels
> and are not physically numbering each section.
> A policy and procedures manual of 200 pages is too big - split it into
> smaller documents.
> Do the 270 people each receive a hard copy? If so, I would look at online
> availability.
> Issue the new section as an addendum pending the next major update.
> All the best
> Alan Sismey

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