Is there a word that can be used to mean two previous places? I want to reference something two paragraphs ago; former would work if it was only one before, and I cannot use penultimate because it may be confused with the second to last of the entire work.

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    I don't think it would exist.. Because then someone would ask for last but third and then last but fourth and so on.. – Gaurav Shah Aug 8 '11 at 5:37

A couple of things come to mind.

In the paragraph before the last one we said that XYZ ...

As mentioned before, XYZ ...

Above we established/concluded that XYZ...

The last two options do not specifically point to the paragraph, but the reader should be able to figure out which part of the text you are referring to.

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"As stated previously,"

I think that you can trust your readers to have enough of an attention span to figure out which paragraph is being referred to in that case. If not there are either some serious problems with your writing style or you're writing something that's altogether far too meta (but I repeat myself).

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In the very first comment of this blog, someone stated:

I edited the post including two paragraphs before the image, explaining with more details how it is created.

I believe that the one way to state "two paragraphs" before would be to do as the fellow did above: just say it! You'll be understood without doubt.

Edit: One other way would be to use former. Former doesn't necessarily work only if it was the only one before. It refers to anything:

preceding in time; prior or earlier

Thus, you could possibly say:

In a former paragraph, it was stated....

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  • But the blogger inserted two paragraphs of text before the image, whereas OP is looking for a word for text two paragraphs before... . If even you can be confused, maybe this isn't unambiguous. – Tim Lymington Aug 8 '11 at 17:59

I would simply say "the preceding two paragraphs" - that's clear and you can substitute any other number you like (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/precede)

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    This could be misunderstood for the both paragraphs that were before. – Thursagen Aug 8 '11 at 6:52
  • Apologies - I misunderstood your question and thought that's what you were asking for! – SteveM Aug 8 '11 at 7:09
  • Haha! Understandable. Besides, I didn't ask the question...:) – Thursagen Aug 8 '11 at 7:12
  • Haha - no, you just edited it. Sorry again :-) – SteveM Aug 8 '11 at 7:15

Try penprevious (made up word, parallel with penultimate).

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