Goose Eggs, part 1

consistency in the Formats series?

part 1

part 2



We need a breather after the last series of articles, which discussed classification systems, MasterFormat, and the proposed Overall Construction Classification System (OCCS). We are going to look at the same thing again, but this time we’ll focus on just the names and numbers.

One of the guiding principles of the organization brought to construction documents by CSI is consistency. Using the Format series standards and the Manual of Practice steers one to do things the same way each time, thereby making it easy for the specifier to know where to put things, and easier for the reader to know where to look. This consistency is evident throughout CSI's standards - with a few exceptions. Let’s start with MasterFormat.

Level 1 Categories

The Level 1 titles in MasterFormat look o.k., but are they really consistent? Let’s start with Division 1. From here through Division 16 we see that each category has a similar title - each uses the word Division. The information within each category is apparently similar, as all printed documents are called “sections”. Now let’s go back to the beginning. 

Here we see five categories of information, by definition at the same level as the sixteen Divisions. Yet none of these categories has a name that begins with the word Division. Taken together, the Level 4 numbers of the first three categories have the same span as a single Division - 1,000 numbers. The remaining two categories are essentially empty. So, from one view, the first five categories might be seen as the functional equivalent of a single Division, yet each is given Level 1 status. Printed documents within the first three categories are called “documents”, even though there is little distinction between them and their counterparts in the sixteen Divisions. 

Even though two digits are necessary to number all of the Level 1 categories, no leading zero is used. I use the leading zeros for directories on my computer so they sort correctly. 

When assembling a table of contents, many people list all Level 1 titles, then insert the words “not used” if there is no information in that category. I omit the unused titles, and I don’t recall that anyone has ever called to ask “Where is Division 10?”

MasterFormat Sections

Leaving the first five MasterFormat categories alone - they’re too weird to talk about - let’s look at titles in the sixteen Divisions. Titles appear as Section 01100, Section 02100, Section 10100, Section 11100, and so on. The series typically uses five digits.

Leading zeros are always used for section numbers. This works well on the computer, as the sections then automatically sort in the right order. 

I have never seen a table of contents that listed all umpteen hundred section titles, indicating unused sections by the words “not used” - and I hope that I never do! 

Perhaps the logic used for section titles could also be used for Level 1 - use leading zeros, and simply omit unused titles. Next month we’ll look at SectionFormat.

© 2002 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA

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