A headed group of material; the basic structural unit of an article


A very short article, or a simple article such as an editorial or an obituary, may contain nothing but paragraphs and other paragraph-level elements such as figures and tables. But most journal articles are divided into sections, each with a title that describes the content of the section, such as “Introduction”, “Methodology”, or “Conclusions”.

In previous versions of this tag set, a <title> element was required on each section. A title was considered to be the basic requirement for producing an automated Table of Contents for online viewing of an article; so a title was required. However, as nice as it would be to keep that requirement, this is a conversion target tag set, and conversion experience has shown that some users have made an article “look right” by faking a title, for example with bold used inside a paragraph, rather than using a real title/heading element. So, as of version 2.3, the model for <sec>) has been redefined to make the elements <label> (e.g., “3.1.1”) and <title> (e.g., “Temperature Inversions”) optional. Without true section-level headings it will be difficult to create automatic Tables of Contents and high-quality web and print displays.

Conversion Note: Sections are recursive, that is, various levels of sections are indicated by containment, not by different names for the subsections. A Section <sec> element may contain lower level sections that are also tagged using the Section <sec> element, not tagged explicitly as <sec2>, <sec3>, or <subsec1>, etc.

Conversion Note: The <sec> element can be used within Back Matter <back> to tag material that has not been explicitly named as one of the other back matter components, that is, it is not named as an appendix, an acknowledgment, a glossary, etc. For example, tables are frequently placed in the back matter, with no other designation than a label such as “Table 6”, or a title such as “Epochs of Geologic Time”.


disp-level Display Level of a Heading
id Identifier
sec-type Type of Section
xml:lang Language

Model Information

Content Model

<!ELEMENT  sec          %sec-model;                                  >


The following, in order:

This element may be contained in:

<abstract> Abstract; <ack> Acknowledgments; <app> Appendix; <back> Back Matter; <body> Body of the Article; <boxed-text> Boxed Text; <notes> Notes; <sec> Section; <trans-abstract> Translated Abstract

Tagged Example

<sec sec-type="intro">
<p>Geriatric day hospitals developed rapidly in the United Kingdom
in the 1960s as an important component of care provision. The model
has since been widely applied in several Western countries. Day
hospitals provide multidisciplinary assessment and rehabilitation
in an outpatient setting and have a pivotal position between hospital
and home based services. ... We therefore undertook a systematic
review of the randomized trials of day hospital care.
<sec sec-type="methods">
<p>The primary question addressed was ...</p>
<title>Inclusion criteria</title>
<p>We set out to identify all ...</p>
<title>Search strategy</title>
<p>We searched for ...</p>