Frequently, especially at the beginning of an article, you may want to give some kind of background (historical, geographical, etc.) before launching into the topic. Or, research has turned up much more information than the article could stand, yet the writer believes that at least the gist of that background is essential for the reader. If it's simply a series of facts, the writer may use one of the forms of litany as a way to compress the information. If the information can't be compressed into single words or short phrases, the writer may make use of what Peter Jacobi has called "clumping."

I've subdivided such clumping into three types. The most common use for clumping is historical. As succinctly as possible, the writer wants to give sufficient historical background that the reader will more readily understand the article. The writer can leap across centuries with this technique—and the reader will accept it because it's obviously done intentionally. A note of caution: If you use this technique you must know your subject well or you'll unknowingly distort history, and your readers may know it.

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