Re: Repeating a figure (was "Forward" referencing)

Subject: Re: Repeating a figure (was "Forward" referencing)
From: Chris Kowalchuk <chris -at- bdk -dot- net>
To: "Halter, Meg" <HalterMC -at- navair -dot- navy -dot- mil>, Techwr-l <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 02 Sep 1999 18:28:51 -0400

With reference to Meg Halter's post:

I don't see any benefit in informing the reader that the figure has been
repeated. Presumably the figure is there to illustrate something in the
text, and not just for its own sake. Thus, I would alter my caption so
that the purpose of the illustration in the context where it appears is
clearer, hence:

Figure 1-10. Widget Disassembly
Figure 45-657. Widget Disassembly During Motor Calibration
Figure 402-12. Server Arm Maintenance Step 2: Widget Disassembly

I do wonder about the structure of such a document, however. How often
does one need the exact same illustration? If Widget Disassembly is a
sub-procedure used in several procedures, it could also make sense to
cross-reference the whole sub-procedure, and not just the diagram. Also,
if the diagram is actually illustrative of several different
parts/processes documentated at various places in the text, then
wouldn't it be useful to take a few minutes and break the illustration
into parts and just use a "blow up" in any specific section. For
example, I have often imported CAD drawings of entire assemblies into
CorelDraw, and just "broken off" the particular part I wanted to discuss
and saved it as a separate graphic. This not only focusses the
illustration but saves a fair bit of file space. I guess I am just
wondering about what causes the need to show the same figure multiple
times? Time constraints--you'd like slightly different figures, but
don't have time to make them? I have included an instrument front panel
a few times in the same manual. The first as part of the
Introduction/orientation (here's a picture of what this manual is
about), and again in the chapter actually discussing the controls etc.
on the front panel. Again, in such a case, I would label according to
the purpose of the illustration:

Fig 1-1: The AT750 Widget
Fig 4-1: The AT750 Widget Front Panel Controls

No doubt it come up from time to time, but when it does, I would
definitely use that as one of my "organizational truthing" warnings,
much as when you find the same sub-heading cropping up over and
over--maybe it's time to include a new major section, and eliminate the
repeated subheadings. The organizational warning goes something like
this:
ALARM. Why am I repeating this figure? Is there a flaw in my structure?
No? Ok, proceed to repeat figure. or
ALARM. Why am I repeating this subheading (and why is it a level 4 or
lower subheading)? Is there a flaw in my structure? Yes? Create new
chapter.

This writing robot signing off...
Chris Kowalchuk





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