RE: Numbering the headings. What is the point?

Subject: RE: Numbering the headings. What is the point?
From: "Smith, Martin" <smithmr -at- encorp -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 15:45:08 -0600

In regards to the appropriateness of numbered heads Tom Murrell writes, in
part: ...Does anyone have actual analytical data to support their position,
though? Has anyone actually done an unbiased study? If not, I nominate this
question as another one for our wish list to the academics.

Forgive me, but I am not sure that I would trust an "academic" with a degree
in "Two Spaces After Periods" with special emphasis in "Font Selection" from
STC U to decide whether or not numbered heads are really of any value in
highly technical, procedural, military documentation.

The helicopter mechanic who wrote earlier in regards to this thread was
right on when he mentioned that he always knew that ..."11" was flight
controls, "4" was rotors, "3" landing gear, etc. The point of these
elaborate numbering schemes isn't merely to indicate one's location in the
document. The numbering scheme ensures that one can always find the same
information in the same place. As a technical writer I was not allowed to
restructure the manual each time I updated the depot repair manual for a
hydraulic actuator. Once written, the structure of the manual was
permanently fixed. In fact, the organization was preordained by the MIL-SPEC
that governed all documents created for a given aircraft.

If technical writers were biblical scholars, then John 3-16 in the NIV, King
James, and other versions of the bible would either 1) all refer to
completely different passages, or 2) wouldn't be numbered in the first
place. Just imagine trying to follow along during the Sermon on Sunday
morning. "Now lets all turn to the passage where, let's see.., I know, look
in the index under sin..., looking, looking, looking... sins of the flesh,
sins of the heart, no that's not it, let's try evil, looking, looking..., oh
hell it's after 12:00 already, dismissed..."

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