What are advantages and disadvantages (totally not implying that there is a rule) of "chapter abstracts", i.e., short summaries of the content of the following chapter, which are placed directly below the chapter heading and not as part of a subchapter.

The side against them often claims that it is not allowed to place text outside of the rigid chapter-subchapter strucure (see, e.g., https://www.christianlehmann.eu/ling/epistemology/techniques/redaction/index.html?https://www.christianlehmann.eu/ling/epistemology/techniques/redaction/aufbau_wiss_arbeit.php due to a lack of a better source, a website from a Professor emeritus for General and Comparative Linguistics from University of Erfurt, Germany).

The other side often perceives a universal need for everything to be introduced, sometimes going as far as claiming that no heading and subheading should be placed directly next to each other (see, e.g., https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/crea-lit/headings-and-subheadings), which would mean that even for a third-level heading consisting of fourth-level subheadings one would need to write a "chapter abstract".

While I am still looking for the perfect word for "chapter abstract", I would like to hear advantages and disadvantages of "chapter abstracts" (preferably based on credible/authorative sources, to eliminate the suspicion of soliticing "opinions").

A disadvantage that I see is the following: A chapter's and its subchapters' headings should speak for themselves and show a clear "guiding thread". Chapter abstracts seem to absolve the student of any necessity for finding headings that mean something and ordering them so that a guiding thread is obvious, since they will just add a short "clarification" of what follows at the beginning of a chapter.

  • 4
    Why do you think a general or universal rule is needed? Shouldn't it be dependent on the work itself?
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 14:40
  • I don't think a universal rule is needed or exists, particularly one in favour of "chapter abstracts", which is why I am asking for "arguments for and against" in the title! And yes, it is dependent on the work itself, which is why I specified "bachelor's and master's thesis", which are somewhat comparable (with regards to the question of chapter abstracts) among all disciplines. Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 16:15
  • 1
    I agree with Buffy that this depends on the work itself, and by this I mean on an individual level. I see no reason why, say, two Master's theses in mathematics should follow the same "rule" here.In fact, I see no need for a rule at all. It might even be different for two chapters within the same thesis in some cases. Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 16:38
  • I rarely flag as "opinion-based" but I've done so for this question as it seems to be soliciting opinions. I think this is an interesting discussion topic, but the SE philosophy is that this precise venue is not a discussion forum.
    – user137975
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 16:40
  • 1
    I have never heard anyone argue that anyone cannot put text before the first subsection. Do you have a source for this? Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


Style issues depend on the specific audience. You will need to check with the place you want to publish your document. They will have preferences. Their preferences may be different from those of other groups, and possibly will change over time.

Check if there is a style guide and if so, try to follow it. There may not be a formal style guide. Look at the documents of similar type that have recently been published in the same place and find out how they have been formatted.

  • Thanks for the answer, but I am asking for "advantages and disadvantages" about chapter abstracts (in bachelor's and master's thesis from the supervisor side). Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 11:53

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .