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I have seen the following type of phrase in various academic articles and books.

  • Another important decomposition used in the sequel is the ...
  • In the sequel, we identify the position ...
  • the vector v (introduced in the sequel) must be considered...

At first, this use of "in the sequel" seemed strange, and I chalked it up to non-native English writing. I would say something like "in the following" or "below" in a case like this. However, I've seen it enough that I'm starting to question whether it's acceptable/standard English or not.

I can see an argument that by the etymology of the word, it can be used in this fashion. The modern definition of sequel applies to books, films, and events. What's the verdict?

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3 Answers 3

Sequel is from the Latin sequi ("to follow") and was presumably in use long before the modern concept of film and book sequels became so ingrained in popular culture. The use of sequel to denote 'that which follows' is valid and survives in academic literature, although it is likely to confuse lay readers.

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If "sequel" confuses them, what they think of sequela? –  JeffSahol May 5 '11 at 2:29
    
@JeffSahol: Good point, indeed sequelae (the plural) was a word I first saw while working in medical data management. Can't find much at all on prequela, guess it hasn't caught on. –  Snubian May 5 '11 at 2:47
3  
+1 @Snubian: The thing is that prequel/prequela would be a horrible malformation that could never exist in Latin, since the stem is sequ-, which means "follow", just as Greek hep- in hepomai. The se- part is not something that can be cut off, and the remaining -qu- would not be a morpheme, it doesn't mean anything. /rant –  Cerberus May 5 '11 at 11:22
    
@Cerberus - interesting, thanks! –  Snubian May 6 '11 at 7:40

It is completely normal in academic writing, as you have discovered. It is a phrase, with a set meaning, which you have learned. What more is there to say about it.

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The word derives from Latin. Its dominant contemporary usage refers to a narrative or story of some kind. Technically it does also refer to "something that follows," or a continuation. I find it more distracting than helpful in the three examples you give.

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