I have some articles and conference papers that I am citing in my text, in my text cite I am using the page number that is related with the rest of the proceedings or the journal, even I have downloaded it or using the online version which is separate from the rest of the proceedings. I think this (Me, 2015, p.340) is confusing when the link of the document I attach will provide just the paper which probably is 4-5 pages.

So what is the appropriate page number to include in-text citing, even if the paper has the page number printed on it?


  • Why reference a page? Sections, theorems, anything is better. Aug 13, 2015 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


The right page number to use is the formal page number in the larger volume, even if the actual PDF that anybody will ever download is only a few pages long. That is because a citation is intended to give the "coordinates" of a document in an absolute and access-independent reference system.

Thus, if you are referencing an article that was published as page 374-382, then its 2nd page is page 375. You can also refer to page ordinally in prose, however, in which case you make the reference point explicit and can start wherever you want, e.g., "the third page of the article", "the second page of Section III".

  • Thanks, that saves me some time, as I have already used the page numbers corresponding to the original numbering, and not the ones corresponding to the dowloaded file. This seemed most logical, but I had to ask since this is about a PhD thesis, so errors like that won't bear any excuse. K.
    – KonVas
    Aug 12, 2015 at 18:45
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    Also, the PDF will usually have the absolute page number printed on it somewhere.
    – Bill Barth
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:24
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    @BillBarth I wish that were so... for most articles yes, but for a surprising number of articles it isn't.
    – jakebeal
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:31
  • @jakebeal, thus "usually", but maybe that indicated too high a frequency in your experience. Nevertheless, preprints probably won't have a correct absolute page either.
    – Bill Barth
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:47

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