Is, for example, "pp. 1567–93" an acceptable way to denote pages 1567 through 1593? In what contexts must you always write it in long form "pp. 1567–1593" instead? Also, what about in the case of smaller numbers, e.g. "pp. 54–7," or more complicated ranges, e.g. "pp. 6, 23–5, 7, 67–8, 94–117"?

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    I'd understand what that meant. As for your second question, my advice would be to consult your local style guide. – J.R. Apr 20 '13 at 22:56
  • @J.R. I've added a few more examples, what about those? – AJMansfield Apr 20 '13 at 23:43
  • I don’t really like their look, but can cite no authority about the matter. – tchrist Apr 20 '13 at 23:45
  • "pp. 6, 23–5, 7, 67–8, 94–117" is wrong. It has to be "pp. 6, 7, 23–5, 67–8, 94–117". Any other choice must be made based on the style manual you're required to use. Most biomedical journals use en dashes, but I use hyphens when I edit bibliographies & let the publisher put in the en dashes. Typesetting isn't my job; it's the job of the publisher's copy editors & typesetters. – user21497 Apr 21 '13 at 0:17
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    AJMansfield, I think that Bill Franke is simply pointing out that you'd want to arrange the series of page numbers in numerical order, rather than having page 7 appear after pages 23–5. – Sven Yargs Apr 30 '13 at 21:49

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition (2003), has very clear preferences, which it lists at section 9.64 (rules paraphrased from a table):

For ranges starting with a page number of 1 through 100 (or multiples of 100), use all digits of the end-range number: 3–10, 71–72, 96–117, 100–104, 1100–1113

For ranges starting with a page number of 101 through 109, 201 through 209, and so on, use only the changed part of the end-range number: 101–8, 1103–4

For ranges starting with a page number of110 through 199, 210 through 299, and so on, use two or more digits of the end-range number, as needed: 321–28. 498–532, 1087–89, 11564–615

But if three digits of a four-digit first page number change in the four-digit end-range number, use all four digits of the second number: 1496–1504, 2787–2816

Words into Type, Third Edition (1974), adopts a more flexible approach to inclusive numbering style:

Inclusive page numbers may be given in full ("413–415") or elided ("413–15"); either way, when type is set an en dash, not a hyphen, should be used. There are different styles of elision; whichever is chosen, the indexer should be consistent. The following is a suggested way: Omit from the second number the digit(s) representing hundreds, except when the first number ends in two zeros, in which case the second number should be given in full. If the next-to-last digit in the first number is a zero, only one digit is necessary after the en dash.

8–10, 22–23, 100–102, 107–9, 119–21, 133–34, 1074–76

Interestingly, however, the Words into Type "suggested way" of handling inclusive page numbers matches the Chicago method point for point.

Other styles, of course, differ. Thus, for example, the MLA Style Manual (as represented in the Koinonia Academy "MLA Citation Guide") rejects the Chicago rule that would render "pages 102 through 103" as "102–3":

  1. Treat inclusive page numbers in text citations and in the list of works cited as follows: 67–68, 102–03, 237–42, 389–421.

Similarly, the North Dakota Supreme Court Citation Manual, which is based on the Harvard Blue Book legal citation style guide insists that the last two digits of a page range should always be retained (though it doesn't offer an example along the lines of "102–03"):

Multiple pages, footnotes, sections, and paragraphs: When citing material that spans more than one page, give the inclusive page numbers, separated by a hyphen or dash. Always retain at least the last two digits, but drop repetitious digits.

*Proper:* 789-90.   *Improper:* 789-790.
*Proper:* 789-801.  *Improper:* 1012-3.
*Proper:* 1012-13.

This guide also accepts hyphens or en dashes as punctuation for inclusive page numbers.

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  • CMoS is one of the style guides around. There are no universal standards. The question is open-ended as were several of its precedents on ELU. – Kris Apr 30 '13 at 6:13
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    But this does give several good examples of standards that are used. It's certainly a lot more useful than saying "go find a style manual". – AJMansfield Apr 30 '13 at 21:23
  • Hi, AJMansfield. Kris was reacting to my original answer, which stopped at the end of the citation to the Chicago Manual of Style. I had thought that my using the word "preferences" in my introduction to its guidelines adequately indicated that neither Chicago nor I was claiming universal authority for its preferences; but since Kris didn't see it that way, I decided to supplement the original reference with three others. I'm glad you liked the revised answer. – Sven Yargs Apr 30 '13 at 21:46

I can't comment right now so I make this an answer even though it is only a note.

The Chicago Manual of Style rules are very good but I think that as long as you have less than a million pages it is always easier for a reader to interpret full ranges; shortened ones always require a little more intellectual work, even if you're always consistent and explain the rules to the reader.

They are often more elegant but I think especially on these days when people are used to clear and schematic thinking most readers would prefer the full version.

You just need to ensure that in ranges with several intervals the single intervals are clearly distinguishable, through proper separation.

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  • Please don't post comments as answers! Instead, do a little work to turn it into a good answer. You'll quickly earn enough reputation to post comments properly. – Bradd Szonye May 6 '13 at 22:17
  • Well I know it is not an answer for the specific questions put in the post, but these had really been already answered ('There is no "Correct" form, period. Consult applicable style manual'). Since notwithstanding this a bounty has been set, meaning that the poster was not satisfied, I thought he maybe was actually in search of something slightly different than what it asked, namely the best form to use, and that I could give an useful view. – user43813 May 6 '13 at 23:54

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