I am writing a paper but I don't know how to move back to the main section after I'm done writing a sub-section, like this:

1.1 Main section
1.1.1 subsection 1
1.1.2 subsection 2

As I write long subsections I don't how can I make readers understand that we are back in the Main section. Two pages goes by on subsections but then I want to do a proper finish by ending the main section after those 2 subsections but I don't know how to indicate this without pointing it out.

Basically I want to end it like this:

1.1 Main section (starting)
1.1.1 Sub section 1
1.1.2 Sub section 2
*and then back to Main section 1.1*
1.1 Main section (ending)

How can I make that proper ending of Main Section after writing subsections?


This might depend on your field (or department/school/institution guidelines), but at least I simply insert the epilogue (because that's what it is) at the end of the last subsection. If your writing is coherent enough, it shows.

For instance:

1. Main section
... In chapter 1 I will talk about a, b, c, because of this and that, and it's important because, blah blah
1.1 "a"
...blah blah
1.2. "b"
... blah
1.3 "c"
...blah blah blah
As I have demonstrated in this chapter, the elements of a, b, and c are important because. I will further examine the importance of d in chapter 2.

  • thats exactly my situation but the problem is that I think that when I will finish the subsections and then write that "As I have demonstrated in this chapter, the" part, how will the reader know if its not the part of subsection. You know, this one can get mixed with sub section, so can I say that the sub section has ended and I can clearly write that "As I have demonstrated in this chapter, the" part. Basically the ending of last subsection can get mixed with starting of epilogue, so how can I indicate that now its epilogue has started, got me? – AKC Jun 25 '16 at 17:39
  • Again, it depends on your field and perhaps possible guidelines. But (I'm in Humanities, EngLit) I simply spell it out: "As I demonstrated in chapter 2, the...", or "As I explicated in section 3.1", etc. Simply refer to either the whole chapter or the subsection – user16555 Jun 25 '16 at 17:44
  • so you mean I should point out - "As we read in section c..bla bla bla" using a new paragraph? – AKC Jun 25 '16 at 17:49
  • Precisely. That's the cleanest way to do it. I do it all the time in all my academic papers. I did it on my PhD thesis. – user16555 Jun 26 '16 at 6:20
  • I agree with you, it seems very simple – AKC Jun 26 '16 at 6:28

There really is no convention for indicating the end of things in text. You are asking for a way to move up the hierarchy of the document without a title to indicate the change. There really isn't a reliable way to indicate that to a reader. Titles indicate the beginning of things not the end of things.

What there is a convention for is creating a subjection that is a summation of the entire chapter. The name of that subsection is generally "Conclusion". A concluding section is not really returning to the main level. The reader is too far removed from what they read in the main level for it simply to resume. Rather, the concluding section is a subsection that reviews the subject matter of the whole chapter.

This is not a perfectly symmetrical or hierarchical design, but then text is not really hierarchical at all. It really is linear. The reader cannot receive it in any form other than linear, and in many texts, headings do not occur in a strict order of hierarchy. Rather, the act more like road signs: a large sign to announce you are entering a large town; a small sign to indicate you are entering a village.

So don't think of a text as a hierarchy, but as a sequence with sign posts which may or may not follow a hierarchical sequence. Your concluding section, which summarizes the argument of the whole chapter, deserves a heading that announces it as such.



1.1 Main section (starting)
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

  1.1.1 Sub section 1
  Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

  1.1.2 Sub section 2
  Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

1.1 Main section (ending)
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

This makes it very easy to follow. Granted, if you have too many subsections you're going to have a left margin which is half the page, but that's an organizational issue.

If you have access to header/footer text, you can also put 1.1.2 Ri meliora dies in the header, so the reader can look up and see what section the copy is in. Transitional copy like "As noted in § 1.1.1 above..." certainly won't hurt either.

  • what is "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet'? – AKC Jun 26 '16 at 6:32
  • 1
    It's simply a latin text used as a "placeholder" instead of writing "blah blah blah" :D lipsum.com – user16555 Jun 26 '16 at 6:35

Don't think of it as moving back to the main section. Instead, create a new subsection.

1.1.3 subsection 3

Or create a section called Conclusion. Better yet, make the part you call the main section into an introduction. In other words, make everything equal in the hierarchy. It makes it a lot easier.

I've used basic numbering in the below outline. If it doesn't work for you, change it. This is merely an example. I have no way of knowing if this is the entirety of your essay or just a piece of it. So I don't know what other numbers there may be. If it's all of it, I would say, don't number everything "1" and go from there. Change the top level numbers too.

  1. Introduction
  2. Section 1
  3. Section 2
  4. Conclusion

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.