Are there any technical terms to specifically describe the two styles (A and B) below? Also, are there any prescriptive style guides that say which is preferable?

My own preference is for style B below because style A seems to be forcing a pseudo-precise legalistic tone, and I aim for the "plain English" style (i.e., avoiding legalese and bureaucratese), but that is merely my individual feeling.


the above-referenced report

the above-described substance

the below-cited data

the below-identified person


the report referenced above

the substance described above

the data cited below

the person identified below

  • A uses an adverb to modify an adjective which modifies a noun. B uses a restrictive relative clause to modify the noun.
    – msam
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 8:03
  • I'd agree with your preference for the relative clauses, except in cases like 'Police found the substance mentioned above down behind the radiator.' Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 8:59
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/163854/…
    – MrHen
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


No, these differences are not strongly associated with any particular style. The "above-referenced" style is sometimes considered slightly more formal but that is a description of the style -- it isn't a specific style comes with its own term.

It is completely possible that various styles do have a preference on which to use but I don't have a list of such preferences handy.


I would not use either on the grounds that they are not plain English. I would say, for example, "the following data:" or "the report referred to above".

  • 3
    'The report referred to above' is of OP's 'style B'. And often a simple adjective (for eg 'below-identified') isn't available to pre-modify. You're not addressing the question about choice of construction, merely suggesting different semantics. Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 9:05

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