I was wondering if a nomenclature section is necessary, especially when you have described parameters in the body of the paper right after the formula. Personally, I don't think it is a good idea to avoid describing the parameters in the body and put them in a different section. This is because it would be really hard for the reader to get back and forth between where he is and the nomenclature section. Besides, I think having both the nomenclature section and the description of the parameters in the body is just too much. Therefore, I don't think it is a good idea to include such a table. However, I've seen people stating that including nomenclature can make a good first impression on the referees of your work.

I would be very happy if I could have your opinion on this!

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    I have never seen such a section in an academic paper. But this may differ between scientific fields, and within scientific fields customs may differ between publication venues. So, this is impossible to answer for the generic case. Aug 29 at 21:14
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    @Wetenschaap Well, since you and I have never seen such a section, we can certainly state that there is no general need for a paper to have a nomenclature section. But admittedly, that doesn't tell Mohammed whether the paper he is writing needs one.
    – Arno
    Aug 29 at 21:21
  • In my discipline, this section exists. Some time it precedes the Introduction (Section I) but usually it is presented as a table. Reviewers tend to ask for it because it is 'expected' or when they need to lookup a symbol; this is particularly important if an article has many symbols or uses non-standard symbols. There is no harm in including it. I ask my students to include it to ensure their notations are clear, suggestive and consistent.
    – VitaminE
    Aug 29 at 21:26
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    Mention what field you are in as there is variability, it seems. Chemistry? Maybe more specific, actually.
    – Buffy
    Aug 29 at 22:14
  • @Wetenschaap Example: arxiv.org/pdf/2107.09870v2.pdf section 2.1.
    – Allure
    Aug 30 at 0:33

In most scientific fields it is ususual to have a separate table of variables/nomenclature for a paper but it is common in books. The reason is that books are much longer, and in this case it is useful for the reader to be able to find all the important variables/special terms in the work defined in one place. You may have noticed that when you consult a large scientific book (e.g., in mathematics) and go to a later section, it can be difficult to track down the meaning of the variables from where they are first used in the body. Having a table of variables assists with this, so in long books it is fairly common. (Similarly, long scientific books often have a list of figures, and index, etc.

A table of variables/nomenclature might be useful in a paper if it is long and has a large amount of notation/special terms. However, most papers are sufficiently short and succinct that such a table would be unecessary. You are right that this is usually too much. Even if it is necessary to include such a table, it would be usual to define the variables as you go through the material as normal, but then have a table to summarise and collect this information in addition to defining things as you go in the body.

Some fields/journals may have a special style where such a table is expected. You should be able to determine this by browsing some papers in the journal of interest, and/or reading their style guide. Unless there is a particular expectation from the journal, always apply the Golden Rule of academic writing --- what would be useful to you in the paper if you were the reader?


Why not check how papers you find well-written and good are organized in this matter? In other words, use “good” papers as a template.


This is primarily meant to improve readability by ensuring continuity and reducing breaks. Naturally, that becomes relevant when there are a lot of formulae/equations one after the other. Explaining each one would create breaks and may come at the expense of flow.

In work where there are only a handful of equations, it would be more natural to describe the nomenclature in the manner you describe.

A rough analogy would be maintenance of a separate references section rather than including the reference in-line. Just are there are different referencing styles, each with its own pros and cons, there are different styles of expressing mathematical statements. It's probably best to stick to whatever is more usual in your specific field/journal.


I know of some journals in my field that consider a nomenclature section/table mandatory. However, I completely agree with the opinion of OP on it and would therefore conclude that one should only include a nomenclature section if asked for by the journal.

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