I am currently writing my master's thesis, which contains a lot of equations and figures referred to in the text of the report. I use Latex for my writing thus making it easy to refer to the figure/equation numbers, but it is also possible to refer to the page on which the figure/equation is to be found. For instance I might have some text on page 34 saying:

... which is shown in figure 2.1 on page 5.

or with shorter distance (page-wise):

... as seen in figure 3.2 on the following page.

My question is whether this is useful to the reader. Is there any consensus about how/when to refer to the pages? Is it better not to do it?

2 Answers 2


If the distance between the figure and the paragraph that mentions it is only about one page, such an aid would be overkill, but for longer distances, I would perceive it as useful.

If the distance is very long, you might even consider repeating the same figure, or some excerpt of it, near the paragraph where you refer to it.

  • 1
    This advise seems to be your personal opinion (with which I agree). Do you know if it is the general opinion as well? Are there any "official" guidelines such as The Chicago Manual of Style?
    – Thomas
    May 21, 2016 at 17:36
  • 1
    Plus, make sure your references are internal links - then readers can simply click on them to go to the picture or formula in question. May 21, 2016 at 20:46
  • @Thomas: I'm not aware of any official guidelines, but to my impression, it's the accepted consensus in my field (in computer science). Repeating the same figure was actually once suggested to me in a reviewer comment. May 22, 2016 at 7:03
  • @StephanKolassa And there's even a key combination that brings you back to the original page after clicking a link. In Adobe Acrobat and SumatraPDF for Windows, it's Alt + LeftArrow. May 22, 2016 at 7:07
  • @StephanKolassa: I do that already, but I have to hand-in only paper versions, though. :/ Solid advise, still.
    – Thomas
    May 22, 2016 at 14:06

A suggestion (and this really is a matter of style) I first saw written down by N David Mermin in What's Wrong with These Equations, which he calls the Good Samaritan Rule, is

When referring to an equation identify it with a phrase as well as a number.

The idea is that you want the text to flow: the reader shouldn't need to refer back to the previous equation as long as the idea comes across, unless and until they're trying to reproduce your detailed calculation. The quick hint as to what the equation you're referring to means is far more important than where the equation actually is. So use the words to name the equation or figure, or the principle that's behind it, rather than giving its page number.

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