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What are possible words (or ideally a specific professional term) for the text between a section heading and the first corresponding subsection heading (in the text body, not the table of contents).

I have found "preamble", but, since preamble certainly is used to refer to an introductionary text for the whole document (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preamble), think that there might be a more specific professional term for it.

1 Introduction

Here is the running text of the introduction for which I would like to have a word

1.1 Motivation

1.2 Objectives

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    If you don't like the reasonable choice of "preamble", have you looked for its synonyms?
    – Anton
    Aug 9, 2022 at 9:06
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    I don't think that preamble is a reasonable choice en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preamble Aug 9, 2022 at 9:40
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    Wikipedia is not the only source of authority. First look at dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/preamble: "an introduction to a speech or piece of writing". A piece of writing does not necessarily mean all the writing. Or look at Merriam Webster. "Preamble" is a good place to start a relevant synonym search, which is what you should have done before asking a question that is clearly based on your understanding of the word.
    – Anton
    Aug 9, 2022 at 9:47
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    If you have a style guide that tells you to include this text, doesn't the style guide give it a name?
    – Stuart F
    Aug 9, 2022 at 14:01
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    I found the question on academia, where it has 7 upvotes (somehow noone thought it should be migrated to english learner's) academia.stackexchange.com/questions/162433/… Aug 9, 2022 at 16:01

2 Answers 2

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You seem to be asking about what to call a block of text that appears in the space between a section heading and the first in a series of subordinate section subheads. At the various publishing houses where I have worked, the term I have used (and heard used) for such text is "section intro"; if there is a single word for it, I've never heard it.

The rationale for calling it a "section intro" is that it is only a small part of the full section that it introduces. The full section comprises the main section heading (in your example, "1 Introduction"), the section intro text, all of the hierarchically subordinate subheads (in your example, "1.1 Motivation" and "1.2 Objectives"), and all running text that appears beneath each subhead. The signal to readers that they have reached the end of a full section (that is, the section intro plus all subsections (including subheads) is the appearance of the next section heading (e.g., "2 Making Sense of Section Intros").

Section intro text is an extremely common element in publishing because many publishers require that there be at least some running text between any section heading or subhead and a following subordinate subhead or sub-subhead. This is not a universal rule, however. The Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition (2919), for example, states, at 1.54 (Subhead levels and placement), "A lower-level subhead may follow an upper-level subhead with no intervening text." Still, in my experience, many publishing houses frequently break with Chicago on this point.

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In HTML, one could call it a "header":

<article>
    <header>
        <h1>Title</h1>
        <p> … </p>
    </header>
    <section>
        <header>
            <h2>1. Subtitle</h2>
            <p> … </p>
        </header>
        <section>
            <header>
                <h3>1.1 Subtitle</h3>
                <p> … </p>
            </header>
            <p> … </p>
            …
        </section>
        <section>
            <header>
                <h3>1.2 Subtitle</h3>
                <p> … </p>
            </header>
            <p> … </p>
            <p> … </p>
            …
        </section>
        …
    </section>
    …
    <footer>
        <p> … </p>
    </footer>
</article>

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