Flattening a hierarchy?

Subject: Flattening a hierarchy?
From: Geoff Hart <Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 10:44:38 -0400

Christine Pellar-Kosbar faces <<...a document that currently
has eight levels of headings. At first glance, they all seem
necessary, but the doc is very confusing.>>

One thing that occurs to me immediately is that you probably
need to take a very close look at the document to see whether
it should really be two or more documents. Even if you stick
with one document:
- the order of the headings may need heavy revision: not all
those subheadings are necessarily part of the one main
heading they fall under, and some may go better elsewhere,
in their own section.
- some headings may be unnecessary: any heading followed
by a subheading without any introductory text can probably
be deleted.

<<Are there other, creative ways to "flatten" a hierarchy?>>

My favorite one is to combine heading levels. For example, if
you had the main heading "Methods", followed by the
subheads "Laboratory" and "Field", this could easily become
two main headings: "Lab methods" and "Field methods" (then
delete the Methods heading). Beyond that, the best strategy
generally depends on the nature of the material, since
sometimes the problem lies in the way the author has defined
the comparisons. If you had a three-way comparison between
Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, for example, with separate
subheadings for each possible permutation, it might be
simplest just to use a single subheading for each point of
comparison (e.g., population) and then provide a summary

If you've got a specific example you could send to techwr-l,
we could probably provide more specific advice.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"The ability to speak does not make you intelligent."--Qui-Gon Jinn

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