I'm reviewing a manuscript with a two column layout that has line numbers on the left margin of the page, but not on the right. Like this: enter image description here

How do I efficiently and effectively reference a particular line in the manuscript? Is there a standard way of doing it?

Currently I write "P1 C1 L12" to refer to page 1, left column, line 12.

  • You can also count up from the bottom if it is more convenient (when the ref is closer to the bottom): P1, C2, L-3
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 15:51
  • 3
    @Buffy I would very strongly recommend against counting up when line numbers are present.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 16:53
  • 1
    @BryanKrause, You are correct, of course. But the other works if they are not, though the question implies they are.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 17:01
  • What idiot thought it was a good idea to use two columns for a review text but with only one column of line numbers. That is just unprofessional. Get them to change it if you can.
    – JeremyC
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 21:46

2 Answers 2


I'm not aware of a standard, but you can always define your own notation in your report. Perhaps some journals do have a recommended standard in their reviewer instructions, but I don't remember seeing that either.

If you want to go compact, I'd suggest "p1, R12" for page 1, right column (L for left), where 12 is understood to be the line number. That is, there are probably few enough columns that there isn't a need to have a running number for them...


Use whatever protocol you like, but explain your protocol to the editor and authors. For example, you could include something like the following (quoting from someone else's review of one of my own papers):

Throughout this review, "p.5(17)" refers to line 17 on page 5.

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