I frequently read a column (or such) that begins the text by mentioning a particular item/person/anecdote or similar, and then continues to lay out the subject and in the end refers back to the "thing" in the beginning of the text. Is there a particular word or phrase to describe this concept?

Just to drop a single reference, see how "Steve Jobs" is used in this article: I bought my Mom a Chromebook Pixel

  • 2
    Maybe setup (the first, almost casual, mentions of Jobs) and callback (the final line which uses a reference to him to tie everything up with a bow. Or you could say the article comes full circle. – GoldenGremlin Feb 1 '16 at 17:11
  • Taking the second suggestion in Silenus's comment, another variant of it is: the conclusion circles back to the introduction. – k1eran Feb 5 '16 at 0:57
  • 1
    Don't you call that "referring back" to something? – Hot Licks Feb 12 '16 at 22:00
  • I am thinking, since it's a common concept, there might be an actual word or phrase for it among journalists/writers. – David W. Feb 12 '16 at 22:02
  • A SWR for "Referring back to something" is aforementioned. The title needs work: SWR for the concept of continually referring back to aforementioned subject matter? At SE we call it on-topic. – Mazura Apr 12 '16 at 23:52

The concept is called persuasive writing, of which my English teacher absolutely drilled* into us the five paragraph format for:

  • Introduction

  • Body (three or more paragraphs)

  • Conclusion

The conclusion is basically a rewrite of the introduction, that includes the TL;DR versions of the body's answers or reasoning.

Every essay or paper designed to be persuasive needs a paragraph at the very outset introducing both the subject at hand and the thesis which is being advanced. It also needs a final paragraph summarizing what's been said and driving the author's argument home. –Writing Guide: Introduction and Conclusion; usu.edu

The title, "Why and how to convince (you and) your mom to buy a Pixel Tablet," wouldn't be as catchy persuasive. Furthermore, if you condense all of these into a single concise paragraph, you've created the article's abstract. This is where you'd find words like hitherto and aforementioned (which is what I though you were after).

I personally found this writing style indispensable for science fair papers which also have an introduction (problem), as well as a body (procedure) that is to be persuasively backed up with data (results), the culmination of which can be found in the conclusion, and the TL:DR version of the whole thing: an abstract.

** Take a look at the (1-3-1) formatting of my answer above the block quote: There's this(1). Here's what it is(2–4). Here's why there is this(5).

Introduction: "by mentioning a particular item/person/anecdote or similar" (1)

Body: "continues to lay out the subject" (2–4)

Conclusion: "and in the end refers back to the "thing" in the beginning of the text" (5)

  • In conclusion, [link to this answer]. – Mazura Apr 13 '16 at 1:02

Not exactly what you are talking about, but this might lead you to the answer:

anaphora: (Greek:, "carrying back") is emphasizing words by repeating them at the beginnings of neighboring clauses. In contrast, an epiphora is repeating words at the clauses' ends

It was the best of times, 
it was the worst of times,
we were all going direct to Heaven, 
we were all going direct the other way 
— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

It has the prosaic name circular structure or circular narrative style.

A story that ends in the same place it began is commonly called a circular or cyclical narrative. - Elissa Hansen, Demand Media, What Is a Circular Narrative Style?

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