Work and write hierarchically

Each chapter in your text will address multiple topics. However, presenting all these topics within a single block would be overwhelming for the reader. Therefore, it is crucial that you divide your content into increasingly smaller units of text. The structural elements provided by LaTeX are:

  • chapters,
  • sections,
  • sub-sections,
  • sub-sub-sections,
  • paragraphs, and
  • sub-paragraphs.

For instance, your “Study Design” chapter may cover all essential elements like study type, metrics, and participants. Each topic should occupy its section, likely broken down into various sub-sections.

It is important that you maintain structural integrity: avoid skipping levels directly from a section to a sub-sub-section without a corresponding sub-section. Similarly, you don’t introduce a sub-section at the very beginning of a section without at least an introductory paragraph in front. More precisely, do not put a sub-section heading directly behind a section heading without any text in-between. However, this rule does not apply to paragraphs wtih headings; they can be placed as needed for clarity and flow.

Ensure that chapters, sections, sub-sections, and paragraphs are meaningful and contain more than a mere heading or single sentence. Each paragraph typically should elaborate on the contained idea or topic, extending beyond just one sentence.

If you plan, for example, to include a sub-section within a section, ensure there is more than one sub-section to justify the segmentation. Otherwise, consider integrating the content into the main section body.

In situations where sub-sections or sub-sub-sections are concise or cover minor points, captioned paragraphs could serve as a more appropriate alternative.

Internal Structure

The content within these chapters generally follows a logical progression of five steps:

  1. Motivate,
  2. provide an overview,
  3. state the details,
  4. summarize, and
  5. conclude.

This sequence applies not just to the entire text but also to individual components. For instance, in the “Study Design” chapter, you’ll start by providing a comprehensive overview and rationale for your study design. You will then delve into specifics such as study type, metrics, participants, and so forth.

Thus, you might begin with an introductory paragraph outlining your motivation, followed by individual sections addressing each criterion. For instance, in the “Participants” section, you could offer insights into your recruitment process, explain your choices for specific participant groups, and detail their characteristics.

It is not mandatory for every component to follow all five steps. For example, in certain sections, summarizing and concluding may not be necessary.


For paragraphs, adhere to the principle:

Each paragraph should focus on a single topic, problem, or idea.

You can structure paragraphs using the five-step approach. Start with sentences that introduce or highlight the central topic, problem, or idea, setting the stage or providing motivation. Then, delve into the specifics, offering a detailed examination. Conclude by summarizing the main point or by smoothly transitioning to the next paragraph. Have a look at the paragraphs of this guide, most implement these rules.

In your document, you’ll frequently start new paragraphs to separate ideas. At times, you might want to underscore a paragraph’s significance with a heading, especially when introducing specific terms. You can add paragraph headings inline at the paragraph’s start. However, it’s not necessary for every paragraph to have a heading; unheaded paragraphs are more common than headed ones.