English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have to translate the following sentence into French:

Scrapers and abrasives are used to prepare the surface of a workpiece before a finish (pp.164–71) is applied.

I believe there is a mistake in the page range and think it should be:


By any chance, is there any rule in English that allows to drop the hundreds of a page number when abbreviating a page range, or is this a mistake, as I do believe?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Robusto, Rory Alsop, Josh61, Edwin Ashworth, Hellion Aug 13 '14 at 17:26

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2011-14 is a familiar example. Why should page abbreviation be any different? – Itsme Aug 13 '14 at 10:53
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about academic style-guide practices, not English. – Robusto Aug 13 '14 at 11:09
I've never seem this done before, so it looks like a top to me. Maybe they meant 71-164. – Qaz Aug 13 '14 at 11:18
It’s nor mistake. It’s normal, or at least common enough. It means what you think it means. – tchrist Aug 13 '14 at 11:53
I can't see this being off-topic, because the OP has no way to know whether there is some academic style-guide involved, or whether this is just down to rules of the English language (and possibly a mistake). – gnasher729 Aug 13 '14 at 12:35

This is likely not a mistake, as it is a fairly common style for ranges of numerals. The common leading digits are elided as unnecessary. In particular, the Modern Language Association style guide states:

Inclusive range of numbers. MLA style drops digits in numbers above 99 according to specific rules. This is the process of eliding a range of inclusive numbers.

  • When writing numbers through 99 give the full digits. For example, write 42-48 not 42-8.

  • Page numbers above 99 require only the last two digits of the second number as long as the result is unambiguous. Leading zeros are not dropped in MLA practice. Write pages 1123–24 not 1123–1124; write pages 2000–04 not 2000–4 nor 2000-2004. Write pages 112–35 and pages 102–21, but write pages 102–08 not 102–8 or 102–108.

  • Write pages 1,584–621 not pages 1,582–1,621, and certainly not pages 1,584–21.

  • Elide dates only when they fall within the same century. Write the years 1865-1917 not 1865-917.


share|improve this answer

You say you are translating this text into French. So I assume your question is an attempt to confirm whether you have understood the English-language source text correctly, rather than asking how one should translate the page numbers into French (where different conventions than those governing an English-language text might apply).

Such presentational issues are often governed by style guides. If no style guide is operative, or if following it to the letter would lead to a problem of interpretation, then common sense should be applied. In practice, this most often means minimizing the scope for confusion, ambiguity or misunderstanding.

I don't think that result was achieved here. But even so, I think most readers would understand the page number meaning the same way you do.

To be safe, if I was translating this text and the question of how to present the page range was up to me, I would give both the numbers in full. After all, it's not as though doing so would involve any kind of sacrifice or inconvenience, and clarity would be maximized by presenting the second number in its entirety.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.