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Summary of the Overview of Reference Words

Reference Words

Reference words are a type of rhetorical device that allows a writer to create cohesion throughout a text by reintroducing, manipulating, or anticipating information continually and in interesting ways.

Reference words can be almost any part of speech, but most of them are pronouns and noun phrases.

Reference words can refer in three directions: upward to a previously mentioned portion of text, downward to a subsequent portion of text, or outward to an entity that is not mentioned in the text.

A. Reference words that refer upward in a text are called "anaphoric."
B. Reference words that refer downward in a text are called "cataphoric."
C. Reference words that refer outward from a text are called "exophoric."


Antecedents are the words that reference words represent. They can consist of various-sized portions of text:

A. Noun phrases
B. Sentences or parts of sentences
C. One or more complete paragraphs