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Are there rules about whether or not to put text between section and subsection headings (in scholarly works)?

1 section heading

text / no text here?

1.1 subsection heading

more text

1.2 subsection heading

...

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What's the context? An informal outline, or perhaps a non-fiction work edited to style guide? –  Neil Fein Mar 28 '11 at 4:12
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If it makes sense, by all means put text there. It’s not strange at all. Neither is not having text there and just starting a subsection immediately.

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+1 clarity is king –  gmoore Mar 28 '11 at 2:06
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If you feel like the section needs an introduction, go ahead and put a little text there. If the heading is comprehensible on its own, then don't bother.

Example: 1.1 has introductory text; 1.2 does not.

1. Star Trek

Star Trek was a television show which originally aired from 1966 to 1969. It struggled in the ratings and was eventually canceled despite a small but ferociously loyal fanbase. Years of repeats and syndication proved that the concept had legs, and four sequel series have aired to date.

1.1 Star Trek: The Original Series

Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry and pitched as "Wagon Train to the Stars." It starred William Shatner as the charismatic Captain James T. Kirk. Leonard Nimoy as the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, and DeForrest Kelley as the cantankerous Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat.

1.2 Star Trek: The Next Generation.

After years of anticipation, several movies, and a failed "Star Trek II" series, Star Trek finally returned to the (syndicated) small screen. Led by Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart, a diverse ensemble cast including LeVar Burton from "Roots" once again walked the decks of the Enterprise. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat.

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A quick check of a dozen nonfiction books from my bookshelf suggests that it's unusual to start a section with a subsection. In all but one book (an economics book from 1956), each chapter and section begins with some text that introduces the topic and sets the stage for what follows.

So it's not against the rules to start a section with a subsection, but it's unusual.

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