Companies and organisations are often divided into different offices or departments, but what do you call further subdivisions? In my language we use the word corresponding to "section", so at my Uni, for instance, the communications office is further divided into different "sections", such as the "section" for student recruitment; the "section" for conferences and events and so on. However, when I look up "section" in Merriam-Webster, there is no entry that fits this use of the word, and when I look at different organisations in the UK, I can't find anything supporting this use of the word. So, my questions now are:

  1. Can "section" be used in this way?
  2. If it can't be used in this way, what would be a more natural word to use?
  • 1
    Every company has its own organizational structure.
    – Lambie
    Dec 22, 2021 at 21:16

4 Answers 4


It could be, and in some companies it probably is used.

But this will vary from company to company. Some will have no formal subdivision, some will have "divisions" that are subdivided into "sections". And there are probably some that have "sections" that are subdivided into "divisions". Some companies will have "departments" or "teams" or "groups". Some companies will use "department" and "section" as synonyms.

The terminology is not really standardised.

If you provide enough context, people will probably understand.

I work in the marketing department of a large electronics company. In particular, I'm work in the branding and packaging section.


In the UK Civil Service, 'section' is a usual word for a particular lowest-level subdivision of a Department or Ministry. I have a feeling that it is less common outside the government service.

In a UK Civil Service job advertisement, one of the responsibilities of the role:

Line Manage staff in your section according to FCDO Good Line Manager Charter


There's no English standard for which terms to use to denote smaller "sections" of an organization. One university might use the words "faculty" at the top, then "department" lower down, while another might use other words.

There is a preference for certain words in certain fields, like academia often uses "department", and the military and corporate worlds often use "section" and "division", but few of these words have firm definitions beyond "smaller part of a greater organization".


I am a native English speaker (southern U.S.), and I, too, am thrown off by the hierarchical use of words like "department", "division", "section", "branch", etc. If you were to refer to, say, "the nuclear power section of General Electric", people would understand that you were talking about some organizational component of the company, even though the company's management attached some hierarchical meaning to those sorts of words. Someone else with more knowledge of governmental or corporate organization may be able to provide you with a better explanation, but as a layman, I will understand what you mean if you use any of those words. (Some may note that General Electric is divesting itself of some organizational units, but that was the first bureaucracy that came to mind.)

  • 1
    Agreed that these meanings can vary. There are general connotations, however. A "branch" is often a geographic term, I would expect a "department" or "division" to focus on a particular kind of work or a particular career track, a "team" is probably no more than a few dozen people, etc.
    – Kevin
    Dec 23, 2021 at 5:10

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