Very simple question:

Is \paragraph supposed to be used only under \subsubsection or do you use it directly under \section or \subsection as well (e.g., if there are no further sub sections necessary).

I mean, because you wouldn't use \subsubsection directly under \chapter ...


2 Answers 2


Although not much bad happens in most cases if you break the rules, you should use \paragraph below \subsubsection. Despite its rather unfortunate name \paragraph and \subparagraph are part of the section level hierarchy and unrelated to paragraphs of text.

LaTeX is designed so that you can mark up sectional units and decide separately what level of sectioning is reflected in the table of contents, and what level is numbered.

If you set the counters secnumdepth or tocdepth above 4 then you will bring in the paragraph level and the omitted subsubsection level 3 will be more obvious.

  • 1
    Somehow I used \paragraph more because of the nice formatting :) I found the description environment as replacement.
    – schoettl
    Feb 6, 2013 at 21:42
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    You can redefine \subsubsection to use the same formatting as \paragraph (it's only a line of code in the standard classes) Feb 6, 2013 at 22:10

I frequently use a structure consisting of \chapter, \section, \subsection, and \paragraph.

The only real constraint, I think, is that without special adjustments you can only number the structure above the point where you "break the hierarchy".

But then applications where you number down to 5 levels (or 6 if you add \subparagraph) are, I think, very specialised and somewhat unusual.


I apologise: this is a really bad answer, in that I am simply transferring my laziness to others. As noted by @DavidCarlisle and @FrankMittelbach, what I'm doing here is opting for convenience in place of semantic rigour.

I have always, really, been an advocate of the theory "Don't tell lies to your computer, because ten years later, after you've forgotten, it will tell those same lies back to you", but Frank and David have, rightly, called me out for having my fingers in the till.

  • Ok, so I don't violate any best practice if I use \paragraph this way. Like you, I don't number paragraphs anyway.
    – schoettl
    Feb 6, 2013 at 19:43
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    It sort of works but logically you should use subsubsection rather than paragraph I think. Otherwise if you set the counters for toc or numbering things go wrong. Feb 6, 2013 at 19:51
  • @DavidCarlisle : Oh yes, the counters go awry, that's for sure. But my \paragraphs are, semantically, paragraphs, not (I think) \subsubsections. Feb 6, 2013 at 20:09
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    well then \paragraph is the wrong markup as (unfortunately) it doesn't mean paragraph it means level 4 section head. Feb 6, 2013 at 20:10
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    @Brent it is not a good idea really. A cleaner way (if you want to highjack the formatting of \paragraph from a certain class) is to add to your preamble a definition such as \newcommand\boldinline[1]{\paragraph{#1}} and then use this. One line of extra code but a clean interface. If later you move your text to some other class where \paragraph is coming out differently then there is a single place for making the adjustment. And you do not polute the doc body by misusing logical object for visual effects. Feb 6, 2013 at 22:57

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