When using cross-references in a thesis for cross-referencing to specific sections, do we have to use section numbers or section names would be fine too?


As discussed in the Discussion section, ...


As discussed in section 3.4, ...

If possible, please answer with a citable reference.

I remember reading that both are correct, but know I cannot find it! I think it was in the book "How to write a better thesis?" by Evans, Gruba and Zobel.


1 Answer 1


Intuitively, it's a matter of taste. Both are indeed correct.

As discussed in the Discussion section/Section 3.4

But the former is less usable, because finding the Discussion section is harder than finding Section 3.4, so I strongly advocate the latter.

  • 2
    I agree, but would also advise that the OP check any specific regulations their institution might have with regards to thesis formatting. Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 11:11
  • @user2768 Thanks! Of course, as I mentioned, I am looking for a citable reference. Because it seems my thesis reviewer haven't found many issues, and instead directed me to change the whole cross-reference styling!
    – RFAI
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 0:23
  • @RFNO Which style have they suggested?
    – user2768
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 7:04
  • 1
    @RFNO Although this is a matter of taste, your style is rather unusable, which is why your thesis reviewer has directed you to change it. How has the direction been issued? Are you required to make the change or is it merely a suggestion or ...?
    – user2768
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 12:25
  • 1
    @RFNO I agree with your supervisor: It isn't necessary and you should push back. Personally, I'd suggest you explain the lessons you've learned. Regarding, why is it [rather] unusable?, because every reference is indirect (see reference, look-up section in contents, visit section), rather than direct (see reference, visit section).
    – user2768
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 13:17

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