My question is regarding he numbering of Figures across an entire textbook. If a textbook contains chapters and each chapter contains sections, should I reset the counts in each section? Or should I reset the count at each chapter? Or should I just use one continuous count over the entire textbook? I believe I've seen all three in different textbooks. Is there a preferred method for authoring?

I can see how listing all of the Figures in an index would look nicer if I used a continuous count over the entire chapter or an entire textbook. In the former case, Figure 2.37 would represent the 37th figure in chapter 2. In the latter case, Figure 247 would represent the 247th figure in textbook.

However, it would be easier to reference the Figure if I also narrowed it down the particular section. Then the student would know where the Figure is located. That is Figure 4.5.4 to represent the 4th figure in Chapter 4 Section 5. It's numbering is going to look ugly but the flip side is that the figures are easily referenced to a section.

Any suggestions?

This question could also be applied to the numbering of Tables, Theorems, Lemmas, and Definitions.


2 Answers 2


Personally, I like it if the numbers allow me to locate something in the book. For example, if you number all your illustrations in chapter 5 as Figure 5.1, Figure 5.2, etc., I know where I will have to look for figure 17.8, if I find it or a reference to it out of context (e.g. on the internet). I don't know why, but I often find myself leafing back and forth in a book, trying to find certain tables or figures.

On the other hand, I never have problems locating chapters or sections. I just look in the contents, read the page number, and go there. So what kind of numbers your chapters, sections and so forth have, is irrelevant to me. Some books don't have numbers, and they work fine for me, too. I would probably look at a couple of other books of the same type and see how they do it, and then adhere to reader expectation.


An advantage of numbering by chapter is that when deleting/adding/moving figures, renumbering (if not automatic) is required only for the rest of the chapter, not book.

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