Clauses or Sections?

OpenStrat at OpenStrat at
Mon Nov 16 13:05:13 PST 2009

It is a style thing related to common ECMA and ISO style guides.   "Clause 
14" is a correct reference to major heading "14", and references to  
"sub-clauses" such as "14.1" are referenced directly without mention of  "clause", 
"section", "paragraph" "etc".
Section, such as "Section 1" is a division of the document higher than  
Clause.  For example "Section 1" may have one or more "clauses" such as  
"clause 14" of "Section 2".  The rules are spelled out in the ISO Style  Guide and 
the Ecma Style Guide.  If in doubt, contact Patrick at 
_patrick at ecma-international.org_ (mailto:patrick at   who will be able to 
give you specific guidance.
In a message dated 11/16/2009 3:47:37 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
tshinnic at writes:

At 01:35 PM 11/16/2009, Brendan Eich wrote:

On Nov 16, 2009, at 11:25 AM,  Garrett Smith wrote:

The ES5 Specification mentions  "clauses" in many places (e.g. "Clause
10."). This seems unclear. Is a  "clause" the same thing as a
"section"? Why the double  terminology?

I don't know -- I should have noticed these,  since ES3 lacks such  
solecisms. "Clause" occurs in ES3 only as  part of CatchClause(s).

It's odd to use clause, which has a specific  meaning in natural  
language grammars, and a different but  irrelevant meaning for legal  
documents, to mean something as big  as an ES5 section.

Allen no doubt knows the history. I hope this  isn't an Ecma thing.

I'm sure it is, and the style is  consistent with 'clause' === 
'chapter-level', e.g.
"The  syntactic grammar for ECMAScript is given in clauses 11, 12, 13 and  

This bit of strangeness was mentioned by me back in January,  saying 
Sometimes there will be a bare "clause 7" or  "See clause 14", but 
elsewhere it will be stated "See 7.2" or "See clause  14.1"
Is it just custom not to say 'chapter' or  'section'?  Or is it a 
carry-over from some style  guide?
:               <examples>                  :
In fact, it seems the uses of 'section' outnumber  those of 'clause'...
It does conflict a bit with needed  terminology "case clause"
and by others since.

Gotta be a style  thing, as in 'irritating' but thus not actionable?

I'm a pessimist about probabilities; I'm an optimist  about possibilities.
Lewis Mumford  (1895-1990)  

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