I am building the glossary of my master's thesis. To redirect readers to it when they come across a technical word, I stress them with a * at the end, like : preemption*

How should I deal with words appearing more than 50 or 100 times?

I thought about stressing the first one appearing in the paragraph, or maybe the section. What peoples do in general?

  • 1
    Where I have seen texts indicate terms that are included in a glossary (this is more common in textbooks than in documents like a thesis), it is done by putting the word in bold, with a note in the starting matter that this is the convention used. An asterisk breaks up the flow of text more and could lead to a lot more confusion with readers expecting footnotes.
    – dbmag9
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 9:10
  • Use a hyperlink.
    – Bergi
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


I personally don't want them marked at all. But when I stumble over an acronym that I don't know or a peculiar word, then I consult the list of abbreviations and/or the glossary. If it is not explained, then the trouble starts. In any case, the people who will be reading your thesis will not need to have markings in the text as to which word is to be found there.

If you absolutely must, then as @Oliver882 says: First appearance only.

  • The sentence starting with Otherwise doesn't make sense
    – Oliver882
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 9:32
  • 2
    @Oliver882: I suspect “otherwise” was meant to be something like “furthermore”. (I’ve seen this misuse of “otherwise” before, especially in Euro-English contexts, I guess from the influence of words like German “außerdem”.)
    – PLL
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 14:26
  • 2
    @PLL OK. Or perhaps "In any case"?
    – Oliver882
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 16:21
  • @Oliver882, right, that's a better term! Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 23:52

You are not stressing the words. You are marking that they are in the glossary.

Do it for the first appearance in the section.


Agreed with other posters. It is on your reader to look in the glossary you helpfully provide when they stumble on a word or term they're unfamiliar with. A word marked with an asterisk and "see glossary" would confuse me, personally. If you truly feel the need, I would mark it with a footnote that gives what page the term appears in your glossary.

If you're coining a new word/term in your thesis, you would explicitly define that in the text rather than direct a reader to the glossary.


I would say it depends on the field. In STEM, you will probably have definitions that should be clear on the first occurrence and used afterward. There you can emphasize the term you define, like

We call a number positive when it is greater than 0

so it is clear which term you're actually defining. If a glossary or list of definitions is present, it is helpful when it contains every emphasized term. The other direction may or may not be useful depending on if the glossary is meant to contain everything needed or only the essential terms defined through the text. In the example above, you could also have a definition for number in the glossary, but you wouldn't want to emphasize it in this sentence because it is only used in the sentence but not defined there.

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