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In a structured document, with sections, parts, and possibly subsections, is there a word, or prefix, or construction, to identify the introduction before a section or a subsection?

For instance, for the second subsection of section one, i.e. §1.2. one would write,

See Section 1, Subsection 2 for more details

What about the preamble/introduction of section 1?

1. Section One

This is preamble of the section 1.

1.1. Subsection 1

Text of subsection 1.1.

1.2. Subsection 2

Text of subsection 1.2.

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2 Answers 2

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Preamble or Prerequisites may be appropriate for information that leads in to structured information but, if you are writing structured information, your information should be structured - into sections...

If you are trying to cross-reference within a technical or structured document, I would recommend giving your sections meaningful titles and cross-referencing the Sub-heading, for example:

"See: 1.2 Selecting your widget"

I would use "See:" if the link is within the document, and "Refer:" if I was directing the reader to another source, a book or WWW., etc.

If you make your headings meaningful, it will help the reader decide if they actually want or need to go there, for example:

"Introduction" - Introduction to what? Do I really need to read this??

Where as:

"Selecting the correct Widget" - Conceptual material. How do I choose my widget?

"Join widgets to sprockets" - A Task or process... How do I do it?

"Types of Widget" - Reference material. Which is the right widget for my application?

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  • "I would recommend giving your sections meaningful titles and cross-referencing the Sub-heading": That would mostly help; though in my case I am not referencing one of my own documents. If I had full control, I would surely go with your proposal...! Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 18:42
  • I'm not sure of your context, but if you are trying to reference text before Sub-section 1.2 in someone else's document would: "The paragraph before section 1.2..." work? I think you could only use 'preamble' or 'introductory text [paragraph]' if the text relates directly to section 1.2. Can you explain context?
    – NeilB
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 22:29
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If the document you have in mind is an international treaty, in international law, an unnumbered introductory clause or paragraph covering several subsequent provisions is called a chapeau. Here's an example from the WTO website referring to an article of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT):

In addition, the chapeau of Article 20 safeguards against the misuse of trade measures by providing that in order to be justified under Article 20, measures must not be “applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on international trade.”

Here's the article in question and its chapeau in bold.

Article XX: General Exceptions

Subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on international trade, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any contracting party of measures:

(a) necessary to protect public morals;

(b) necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health;

(c) relating to the importations or exportations of gold or silver;

(d) necessary to secure compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement, including those relating to customs enforcement, the enforcement of monopolies operated under paragraph 4 of Article II and Article XVII, the protection of patents, trade marks and copyrights, and the prevention of deceptive practices;

(e) relating to the products of prison labour;

(f) imposed for the protection of national treasures of artistic, historic or archaeological value;

(g) relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources if such measures are made effective in conjunction with restrictions on domestic production or consumption;

...

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  • chapeau: 'Hat' in french, so I would consider this to be a french-speaking construct, rather than 'good english'...
    – NeilB
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 22:50
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    @NeilB "chapeau" is a word not a construct and it's good enough for specialists of international law and diplomats but perhaps they don't have the same rigorous standards that you seem to have.
    – grandtout
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 7:07
  • I hadn't thought about the word 'chapeau'; I do not see the same problems as NeilB here. What are your thoughts on 'preamble'? And do you know of any other fields that use 'chapeau' beyond International Law? My concern here being that the Oxford Dictionary edition that I have does not list it in that sense. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 18:44
  • I think you'll find its mainly the French who, quite rightly, are trying to save a dying language [Discuss...] Bon jour @petitrien
    – NeilB
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 8:45
  • @AlexandreCassagne "Preamble" to me applies to the whole of the text or document, not to a section or chapter. I've only seen or heard "chapeau" used in the context of international documents.
    – grandtout
    Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 9:07

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