I am currently writing a paper, which starts with an "Introduction" and a "Definition" section. Would it be OK if there are some terms I plan to define in "Definition" first appear in "Introduction", without defining it in "Introduction"?

If no, how should I deal with it?


There are at several possible ways, actually.

First is to avoid the yet-to-be-defined term in the intro and use a descriptive phrase instead. This assumes the term isn't frequently used in the intro.

A second way is to footnote the definition or an pointer to it when it first appears in the introduction. Putting the definition itself in the footnote repeats it, but a pointer doesn't require that.

You could also just add "... frytopper (defined in the next section)..." at the first appearance.

Yet another would be to write the intro as: "... frytopper (italicized terms defined in the next section)...". For this you would only need the pointing phrase at the first of the later-defined terms, but just italicize all of them - at least for the first appearance.

Some of these require the reader to hop about a bit, but it should work.

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  • What is a "pointer"? – Aqqqq Nov 1 '18 at 13:32
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    A citation of some sort, formal or otherwise. Point to where the def can be found rather than restating it. – Buffy Nov 1 '18 at 13:34
  • What would you think about briefly explaining the term in introduction? (and define it more thoroughly in the section "Definition") Also according to APA, we need to italicize terminology the first time it appears. What about in this case? Should I italicize the term in introduction and not italicize it in "Definition"? – Aqqqq Nov 1 '18 at 15:29
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    In my opinion, a rough definition in the introduction is often a good solution. – Sebastian Bechtel Nov 1 '18 at 17:20
  • @SebastianBechtel, actually, I worry that could lead to the reader being confused. If they get the wrong idea initially then they may carry a misconception for a while. Better IMO to refer to the real definition. – Buffy Nov 1 '18 at 18:46

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