By Liezl van Zyl
We’ve got your number(ing)
Numbering can have a huge influence on how someone interprets your text. That’s why you need to know what to number and how to do it.
Here are some tips for numbering:
Don’t add numbers manually – use Styles in Word.
If you’re not using styles, you’re probably wasting your time trying to get multi-level numbered lists to follow on one another or struggling to get the tabs and indents to be consistent. Styles allow you to
- Insert a table of contents with the click of a button.
- Make cascading changes. That means that if you change the style rules you set for a paragraph, it will automatically update all the paragraphs with that style.
- Number automatically (every drafter’s dream). If you need to move, add, or delete sections, all the numbering will automatically adjust to the new structure. Magic.
Number as little as you can.
If you really need to number something, then do it. But before you number each paragraph and sub-paragraph, ask yourself whether it really is necessary. Whether it might not be enough to have numbered headings and sub-headings? And whether bullets might be easier to use than numbered lists?
Don’t have more than three numbering levels.
You’ve seen those 220.127.116.11.12.1 lists in documents. When the numbering gets too long, the reader loses track of where a section fits into a document. When we see levels that go this deep, we usually diagnose a lack of planning.
Don’t have more than one type of text that is on the same numbered level.
That means don’t have, for example, a second-level heading and a second-level paragraph in one document. Something is going to break. Don’t do it. Just don’t.
We can help you plan your document and set up your template so that the numbering behaves. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for a quote.