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Is it considered bad form to have a different number of sub-levels in different chapters in a technical report? Or would something like the following be admittable?

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 2 - Theory

Section 2.1 - Explosions

Section 2.2 - Drag Loads

Section 2.2.1 - Drag Loads on Piping

Section 2.3 - Compressibility Effects

Chapter 3 - Simulations

Section 3.1 - Stationary Simulations

Section 3.2 - Transient Simulations

Chapter 4 - Conclusions

And, do each heading has to be followed by text, as in the following?

Chapter 2 - Theory

In this chapter we will consider...

Section 2.1 - Explosions

Where I work, we try to stick to the IEEE Style, if that in any way affects the answers.

  • I've seen that often. Typically every chapter will have an introduction/abstract of the chapter as a whole (so you know what you're going to be reading about), rather than just jumping straight into a subheading. – Dan Bron Aug 25 '14 at 10:27
  • Yes, that is definitely what I prefer as well, having a short introduction to the chapter. I was wondering, though, if that's an actual requirement in any style guides, or if it is left to the author. (Given that I'd trying to get my colleagues to follow, I wish for the former.) – Tarjei Aug 25 '14 at 10:33
  • Unfortunately, I have only my opinion to offer, and no experience with style guides (hence the comment instead of an answer). You might want to include that information in your question, though. – Dan Bron Aug 25 '14 at 10:52
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If you're following a style guide, see what it has to say about this. Some may want to specify a maximum depth of nesting, or specify what kinds of divisions qualify as new levels.

If someone else isn't setting the rules, set your own -- just be consistent about it, and avoid the temptation to create new entries where they aren't needed. Generally, if you've gone more than four levels deep in anything but a highly technical document, you're creating more confusion than you're reducing.

  • I couldn't find anything about it in the actual style guide. Since it would be unrealistic for me to limit it further than to three levels, I'll settle with having different number of levels for different sections and chapters (the introduction will seem too forced if pushed to three levels). – Tarjei Aug 26 '14 at 7:21

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