This is a follow up to here.

Just out of typographical interest: Is it possible to get back to a higher section level in some document? Kind of misusing a subsection as a bigger bracketed part of a chapter. Sorry, difficult to explain (and I guess, that's the reason I coudn't find anything on google or here...).

In a sentence, you can write "bla (blup [bla bla {blup}] bla) blup bla (blup) a.s.o..." and everybody would be able to follow. Is that also able for sectioning. And is it "allowed", typographically well seen...?

And if you use such behaviour: How do you do it? Ornaments or white spaces like in the link above? Would the reader really get, what is meant? What about jumping two levels (sorry, I am getting abstract, but I find it interesting)?

And to ask something technological, too. How would the header on following pages know, that I am back on a higher level again?

Here is some scenario to show the problem:


\textcolor{blue}{Hi there, I am starting a new chapter here.}
\textcolor{blue}{To get more into detail than allready done in chapter \ref{cha:Chapter}, I will get a level down to a section. Explaining some stuff which is interesting at the very moment.}
\textcolor{blue}{OK, I have to go more into detail. Here are some super special explanations about something from section \ref{sec:Section}.}

\textcolor{blue}{Dear lector, everything from section \ref{sec:Section} with details in subsection \ref{sec:Subsection} got clear for now. Please jump two levels back onto the chapter level. You are now in chapter \ref{cha:Chapter} again:}.

\textcolor{red}{[!] Here I would need some ornament, white space, whatever... to tell the lector where he is. If this is not kind of "bad practise" in writing reports. The "two level jump" is just some worst case. Not very often used, I guess.}

\textcolor{red}{Even with some cool typographical trick to get the lector back on chapter level, the header above would not know.}
  • This post reads all over the place, perhaps because it is "difficult to explain". However, we require some concrete usages/examples/code in order to provide adequate help. Draw pictures if you must... – Werner Aug 23 '13 at 19:39
  • OK, sorry, I will think about some possibility to demonstrate. – LaRiFaRi Aug 23 '13 at 19:40
  • 1
    basically, no, you can't. latex sections do not surround text they are headings. – David Carlisle Aug 23 '13 at 20:27
  • yes, that's right. But does that mean, you shouldn't do that at all? Speaking of style, not the technical side. Does it never appear to you, that you would like to get back? – LaRiFaRi Aug 23 '13 at 21:00
  • Once upon a time it did, but after 25 years of using latex (and html, which is the same) you start to conform:-) – David Carlisle Aug 24 '13 at 0:10

What you intend to do may make sense for a short text, where each part is a short sentence or at most a few short paragraphs. For this, nested enumerate environments are perfect. It is clear that after the last item, you are again in the main text (chapter, section or subsection).

For long texts, with sections and subsections of some pages, I think that is not a good idea return to a higher level for at least four reasons:

First, it breaks the logical structure of the text. Following section 2.3 you always expect to find the section 2.4 or the Chapter 3, not return to generalities of Chapter 2. People expect first an introductory text and then the specific parts, in that order.

Second, this forces to differentiate clearly the format of the text that belong to each section level. An option could be nested indentations of sections levels as in enumerated list, wasting a lot of space, specially if there more than two levels. Other inelegant options could be use a different colour for each level, or put an extra title as "Chapter 2, continuation" that is difficult to understand: "Go back to chapter 2! Where I was before?".

Third, the start of a "second part" of main text must also appear in the table of contents (otherwise it appear that this part belong to the last section or subsection) or you must show the range of pages for each item (no just the first page).

Fourth, a lot of technical problems. As David point, sectioning commands are not environments, so how can you manage cross references in a "second chapter part" to avoid references to the last section? What about automatic headers showing text structure? What a mess!

  • 2
    The way I envision the usage of this "feature" is that it would be helpful to structure texts that rely on logic heavily. For example, if you have a proof, and the proof has five different steps, it would be very nice to be able to denote very clearly what are these steps and not have them be intertwined. Enumerated lists could not work because sometimes each line in a step is itself huge. As an added bonus, you could later refer back to a single step as a compartmentalized block, in another proof, just to be able to use that derivation. – PPR Aug 19 '14 at 14:00

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.