How to Create a Numbering System for Policies & Procedures

by Jackie Lohrey; Updated September 26, 2017
Green school textbook

A numbering system for policies and procedures assists users in navigating through a paper-based or online manual. A standardized system both provides for logical organization and ensures a user can find information without having to scan every page and heading. Departmental organization and a numeric or alphanumeric numbering system are simple yet effective ways to make sure that a policy or procedure can have only one possible location in the manual.

Policy Layout and Page Numbering

Organize policies alphabetically, including each as a separate chapter, and number each chapter using a compound number, such as 1.0 and 2.0. For example, if the human resource department policy occupies chapter five, use “5.0 - Human Resources” as the chapter heading. Number the pages within each chapter in sequential order, not in sequential order from the beginning to the end of the manual.

Numbering For Procedures

Create numbers for procedures by appending chapter numbers. For example, if “5.0 - Human Resources” includes six procedures, number these from 5.1 to 5.6, and include the name of each procedure. Use indentation, lower-case letters and lower case roman numerals to identify steps and sub-steps within each procedure. For instance, if termination procedures occupy position 5.2, use the letters “a, b and c” to identify the steps in terminating an employee. If any of these steps include sub-steps, identify these using lower case roman numerals such as, “i, ii, iii.”

Numbering System Considerations

Although a good numbering system allows for revisions, it’s not entirely foolproof with regard to additions. If it’s possible, assemble the manual and create the numbering system only after you finish creating all necessary policies and procedures. Otherwise, you’ll either need to add new policies at the end of the manual or re-number everything to maintain alphabetical order.

About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.

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