How to refer to a section of a paper excluding sub-sections, without using section numbers?

For my example text:

3 Example section
Example section text
3.1 Example subsection

3.2 Example subsection

I would like to comment on the example section text, without the comment including subsections 3.1 and 3.2. You might call it section 3.0, but the sections might change place in the future so such a reference would be short-lived. What is a word or succinct way to refer to this implied subsection? For example, I might like to say

[the implied subsection] had some good points.

For my particular use case, I would like to leave a commit message that looks something like this

Review [label of section 3]

while making clear that the subsections are excluded, without the message being too long.

  • 2
    Could you say "The beginning of section 3 ..." or "The introduction to section 3 ... " ? Oct 1, 2019 at 10:24
  • @PeterJennings Yes, I think "introduction" in particular would do. Thank you! I added some more detail to the question. Oct 1, 2019 at 10:42
  • Note that anything contained between and after subsections also constitutes the bare section.
    – Kris
    Oct 1, 2019 at 11:22
  • There can be no section excluding subsections because the main body (excluding subsections) can constitute of only subsections or no subsections.
    – Kris
    Oct 1, 2019 at 11:25
  • There's also the other question you raise. That of transcience of section number, which is a completely different issue. Also @PeterJennings
    – Kris
    Oct 1, 2019 at 11:26

1 Answer 1


This often serves more as an abstract than an introduction, but I don't suggest calling it that.

Your case of referring to (presumably) someone else's work probably is served best by "section introduction". Your second case ("please review... ") could use the same, or it could use "3.0" despite the lack of an explicit ".0" in the document. You'd be widely understood, though of course some people would miss your meaning.

If you're using version control for LaTeX or something like that, and you're avoiding referring to section numbers in your comments, you should refer to the section title in some way, except that too can change - something like "the intro to the methods section" is probably your best bet there.

If you're in full control of the document, I suggest minimising the need to refer to such parts of sections. You can usually refer to the subsection that discusses the material fully, or to the entire section. I'm not trying to dissuade you from introducing your sections this way; it can work very well, and even better at the chapter level.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.