Titles and headings#

This topic provides guidelines for creating titles and headings in documentation.

Capitalization#

Use sentence-style capitalization for most titles and headings, including article, chapter, table, figure, and example titles, as well as section and procedure headings.

One exception is guide titles, which use title-style capitalization.

Guidelines for sentence-style capitalization#

In sentence-style capitalization, you capitalize only the first word of the title or heading, plus any proper nouns, proper adjectives, and terms that are always capitalized, such as some acronyms and abbreviations. If the title includes a colon, capitalize the first word that follows the colon, regardless of its part of speech.

If the heading includes text from a user interface, the capitalization of that text must match the capitalization on the interface.

Examples

Preparing a cloud server to be a mail server

Can I buy extra IP addresses?

What are cloud servers?

What are the PHP configuration limits for Cloud Sites?

Install or upgrade PHP 5.3 for CentOS 5.x

How do I install my own PEAR module?

Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron): Using mod_python to serve your application

I live outside the United States. Can I use my foreign credit card to pay for my account?

Shopping cart software: The basics

Troubleshoot a Vyatta site-to-site VPN connection

Back up your files

Differences between IMAP and POP

Guidelines for title-style capitalization#

Title-style capitalization uses initial uppercase letters for the first, last, and all the significant words in the title.

Capitalize all words in the title except for the following types of words:

  • Articles (a, an, the) unless the article is the first word in the title or follows a colon

  • Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, yet, so) unless the conjunction is the first word in the title

  • Prepositions of any length, unless the preposition is the first or the last word in the title or is part of a verb phrase

  • The word to in an infinitive phrase unless to is the first word in the title

  • Second elements attached by hyphens to prefixes unless they’re proper nouns or proper adjectives

  • Words that always begin with a lowercase letter, such as literal command names or certain product or software names

Examples

Next Generation Cloud Servers Developer Guide

Rackspace Cloud DNS Getting Started Guide

Stand-alone Object Storage Guide

Rackspace Private Cloud powered by VMware Customer Handbook

Cloud Networks Release Notes

Style and structure#

Use the guidelines in this section to create effective and consistent titles and headings. The following guidelines apply to all titles and headings; special considerations for stand-alone articles, product guides, and tables, figures, and examples follow this list.

  • Create succinct, meaningful, descriptive titles and headings, and place the most important words first.

  • Ensure that each title and heading is unique within a given content set.

  • Include articles, prepositions, and punctuation as needed for clarity. However, avoid using an article (a, an, or the) as the first word.

  • Avoid showing both an abbreviation and its spelled-out term in a title or heading. To help control the length of titles and headings, show the abbreviation in the title or heading and then define it in the first paragraph of the text.

  • If you show a literal term (such as a command or option name) in a title or heading, follow it with an appropriate noun.

  • Don’t end a title or heading with a colon or period. If the title or heading is in the form of a question, end it with a question mark.

  • Don’t apply font treatments (bold, italics, or monospace) to text in a title or heading.

  • Don’t include trademark symbols in titles or headings. Show the symbol on the first use of the trademark in text.

  • Avoid having only a single heading at any level (for example, a single subsection in an article or section). If you find that you have a single heading at any one level, consider whether you can reorganize the information to either eliminate the heading or add a second one at that level.

  • Avoid having more than two levels of sections within an article or topic. If you use more than two levels of sections, consider whether you can reorganize to make the structure flatter.

  • Don’t “stack” titles or headings. That is, don’t immediately follow a title or heading with another title or heading. Text should always intervene between them. Ensure that such text is meaningful. If it is just filler text, consider whether you can restructure the content.

  • Use a consistent grammatical structure for the titles and headings of specific types of content:

    Type

    Grammatical structure

    Stand-alone article examples

    Product guide examples

    Conceptual

    Any grammatical structure that’s appropriate, except a verb, gerund, or infinitive

    Linux distributions

    Best practices for backing up your data

    Core concepts

    How monitoring works

    Limitations of detaching from Rackspace networks

    Step-by-step instructions (a task)

    An imperative verb

    Note: For specific guidelines for headings within tasks, see Tasks.

    Identify network interfaces on Linux

    Prepare data disks on servers running Windows

    Set up Mobile Sync for Webmail

    Sign up for a Rackspace Cloud account

    Authenticate with the nova client

    Tutorial or high-level process

    A gerund

    Understanding logrotate

    Customizing Apache web logs

    Working with your first message queue

    Reference

    A plural noun or a noun phrase

    Permissions matrix for Cloud Networks

    Rackspace Auto Scale glossary

    Environment variables for the nova and supernova clients

    Restore operations

    cURL command summary

    Troubleshooting

    A grammatical structure that’s appropriate for the type of content (a troubleshooting topic can contain task, tutorial, concept, or reference information)

    Troubleshoot alarms

    Service troubleshooting on Linux

    Troubleshooting

    FAQ

    A descriptive noun or noun phrase, followed by FAQ

    Rackspace Cloud Billing FAQ

    Scheduled images FAQ

    Not applicable

Stand-alone articles#

In addition to the preceding guidelines, use the following guidelines when creating titles and headings for stand-alone articles on the Support site or in other collections of documentation:

  • Create article titles that don’t rely on body text or other titles for their meaning (that are, in other words, independent of context). Users should be able to tell from a title whether the information in the article is relevant to their needs. Avoid ambiguous one-word titles, such as “Overview.”

  • Don’t number titles to indicate their placement in a series of articles. Indicate the order of articles within the content of the article, referring users to information that they should have read previously before reading the current article. Use links to provide navigation to preceding and following articles in the series.

  • Start with the highest level of heading that is approved for headings (for example, h3), and do not skip heading levels.

Product guides#

In addition to the preceding guidelines, use the following guidelines when creating titles and headings for sections in product guides:

  • If possible, limit titles and headings to 60 characters for legibility in the TOC pane.

  • Consider that titles and headings are written within the context of the content set in which they are presented. Therefore, you can usually omit “context-setting” terms. For example, if the content set is about servers, you can usually omit “for servers” from the title or heading. (For example, “Attach a network to a server” can be shortened to “Attach a network” with no loss of clarity.)

  • Define consistent heading levels, and do not skip levels.

Tables, figures, and examples#

As a general rule, tables, figures, and examples should have titles (also called captions). However, tables, figures, and examples in procedures and tutorials don’t normally require titles.

In addition to the preceding guidelines, use the following guidelines when creating titles for tables, figures, and examples:

  • Place the title above the table, figure, or example, not below it.

  • Tag the title as bold.

  • Avoid using a title that duplicates an article or section title.

Text following titles and headings#

Don’t immediately follow a title or heading with another title or heading. Instead, follow a title or heading with body text.

The body text must be independent from the title or heading. Don’t use a title or heading as an antecedent in the sentence that follows it. That is, be sure to repeat the subject in the first sentence that follows the title or heading, rather than using a pronoun that refers to the title or heading as its antecedent.

Use

Don’t use

Identify network interfaces on Linux

This article briefly describes how to identify which network interfaces on a Linux server are associated with which IP addresses.

Identify network interfaces on Linux

This article briefly describes how to do this.

Tables of contents#

In addition to using the preceding guidelines when creating titles and headings, use the following guidelines when creating a table of contents (TOC) for a collection of content:

  • Entries in the TOC should link only to sections in the content. Don’t include a link to an outside resource in the TOC.

  • The text of a TOC entry must match the text of the title or heading to which it links. If the link needs to be shorter, revise the title or heading to be shorter.

  • Don’t manually format the TOC. TOC formatting must be consistent and controlled by the code.