I am writing one research article in the field of biology. I want to refer some concept which I am going to describe in next sections but have not described in current sentence (or previous sections) to avoid confusion. I felt it will break the flow of the article if I explained that concept in previous sections. For example,

Section 1: Some Title

... We extended this task by performing XYZ (explained in section 2.3) which will help in better understanding of this issue...



Section 2.3: XYZ

This method performs ...

I have seen few papers with such referencing. I was just wondering if it is logically fine or there is some alternative style.

This is not similar to the content which we put in supplementary data. And also this is NOT a problem of keeping it in Materials and Methods. It is just complex concept which will need separate section for its clarification.

I have found one similar post but answer was not satisfactory and slightly unrelated to above situation.

3 Answers 3


It is indeed fine to reference forwards in a document. If this weren't the case, knowing when to read a specific appendix would be very awkward... In some journals it's even the norm to provide some forward references in the introduction to explain how the rest of the paper will be organized.

Also see Is it formal to inform readers that a point will be discussed later in the chapter?


It doesn't help the reader to write, in the introduction, that

We extended this task by performing XYZ (explained in section 2.3) which will help in better understanding of this issue

because the reader won't know why XYZ...will help until later. That's okay if XYZ is well-known. (Albeit, I'd then replace explained with detailed.) Otherwise, it would be useful to briefly explain XYZ and why it will help in the introduction.


Always think of the reader. If XYZ is relevant to understanding something then if possible you should summarise at that point the key points of XYZ that are relevant. If you do that, it is quite OK to say 'more detail in Appendix Y' and/or 'a full account of XYZ is given below in Chapter X'.

What you must avoid is the kind of thing that might be quite acceptable in a work of fiction: 'for reasons that will only become clear later...'.

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