I am preparing a manuscript for submission to Journal of Cardiology. The author instructions say "Please provide inclusive page numbers, e.g., 51-9." What does that mean? How else can you cite page numbers.

  • inclusive page numbers presumably means giving a range from the first relevant page to the last relevant page, rather than a range from the page after the first relevant page and the page before the last relevant page, the latter being "exclusive page numbers."
    – user2768
    Feb 10, 2021 at 8:23
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    That instruction seems rather poor. inclusive confuses, rather than informs me. Presumably exclusive page numbers shouldn't be used. But that'd surely be non-standard anyhow. The example looks to contain a typo, unless 9 abbreviates 59. (If it does, that should surely be mentioned.) Without context, it's difficult to know what should be avoided. For citations, some might find page numbers preferable to section numbers. (I don't, because page 576 of an eleven page paper isn't useful, unless I happen to know the paper starts on page 572.) Perhaps the instruction is common in your field.
    – user2768
    Feb 10, 2021 at 8:29
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    @user2768 In some citation styles it is normal and standard to use the minimum digits for page ranges. 51-59 is written 51-9. You can read it as "pages fifty-one through -nine". If it were 251-269 you would write 251-69, etc.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 10, 2021 at 14:56
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    @user2768 Yes, it does seem a bit outdated even to include page numbers at all in today's digital world. It makes sense in a print journal, though. Especially with volumes that number pages across issues, you can easily have 4 or 5 digit page numbers, and dropping 82340-82349 down to 82340-9 saves several characters and could easily prevent overflow to a subsequent line, which in turn could overflow to a subsequent page. It's an abbreviation that is common in citation styles so the expectation is that readers would be familiar, it's not something particular to any one journal.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 10, 2021 at 15:32
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    @user2768 - and page limits used to be much more firm in the days of actual print. An Applied Physics Letter was 3 journal pages, absolute maximum. Physical Review Letters had to adjust their limits a bit for the (very) large big science papers (e.g. CERN) where the author list could be longer than the paper itself. Anyway, I remember hunting through the galley proofs to find where I could cut the minimum number of letters/words/numbers to get rid of an extra line or two to fit (hint, look at places with as little as possible left in a paragraph/citation, and cut there).
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 10, 2021 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


The alternative is to include only the first page number, which is sufficient to clearly identify the referenced article but in this case the journal is wanting to use a style that includes the end page.

They probably included this in the directions because they cannot reformat references with missing info, and to save their publication staff the time of pestering the authors for the info at a later date.


Depending on the context, page numbers can be reported also in other forms, e.g. from 51 to 59. They thus want the authors to use an inclusive page range (meaning that all the numbers from the first to the last reported are included; I suppose it's for the bibliography) with the page numbers separated by a dash (typically a en dash) and, from the given example, I would say that they also want the authors to use an abbreviated form, that is, 51-9 instead of 51-59.

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    What if it is 19-25? They are really bothering authors in many ways. :)
    – Alchimista
    Feb 10, 2021 at 9:56
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    @Alchimista There are some standard guidelines about how and when to abbreviate, e.g. the Chicago Manual of Style gives some guidance. But indeed the specifications given by that journal are awfully unclear... Feb 10, 2021 at 10:33

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