I'm currently writing a paper and in the introduction I have something in this vein :

[...] Algorithms of this type have the following characteristics (we discuss this in Section 6). [...] The paper is structured as follows [...] In Section 6, we [...]

I was wondering, is it okay to put a forward reference like this, even before describing what Section 6 is about in the outline at the end of the introduction (In Section 6, we [...])? Or is it considered bad practice?

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    Why not? However, introductions typically have, firstly, the "this is our proud contribution" part (with very clear answer to "why should I care?"), and, secondly, a sort of annotated table of contents, something like "in Section 42 we show that miracles exist". The latter part is often omitted in the recent years. My point: make sure not to mix up those both parts. May 9, 2018 at 19:31
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    I often have forward references in the introduction, especially if I need some terminology whose definition is too long to give in the introduction. Then I'd say something like "Terminology used in this introduction will be defined in Section 2." May 12, 2018 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


While these forward references are not "sexy", they help to understand the structure of our argumentation that follows. As usual, it depends on the reader if he likes it. Be sure that your flow is a a logical sequence of (short) arguments even in this abstraction.

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