Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. In my work I encounter many European authors who, in academic texts, insist on using “pp.” when subsequently using an “ff.” notation (writing, for instance, “pp. 173ff.”). Setting aside the advisability of using “ff.” as opposed to giving readers a specific page range, I feel quite certain that the abbreviation should be “p.” rather than “pp.” It does, after all, mean “and the following pages.” And one would never say “pages 173 and the following pages.” Yet I can’t find any explicit style-guide help to back me up here so as to silence the protests claiming that “pp.” is proper since multiple pages are being cited. Your thoughts?

A. Either choice is defensible, but we would side with your authors’ preference for “pp.”

The first eleven editions of the Manual (1906 through 1949) included a pair of examples that back up this usage (these examples are from the eleventh edition; the examples in the first ten editions included an equals sign after each opening parenthesis):

pp. 5 f. (page 5 and the following page)
pp. 5 ff. (page 5 and the following pages)

(Note the thin spaces between the numeral and “f.” or “ff.”—recommended in the first eleven editions and represented here with Unicode character number 2009; Chicago now omits that space.)

You’re right that “ff.” is typically interpreted as meaning “and the following pages,” but it’s Latin (it stands for a plural form of the word that survives in English as “folio”), and besides, it’s just a shorthand. If it helps, you can think of “pp. 173ff.” as equivalent to an indeterminate range expressed as “pp. 173–.”

CMOS 17 allows “ff.” in certain cases (though not in an index), but we discourage the singular “f.” because it’s always more helpful simply to include the following page (e.g., 173–74, not 173f.). See CMOS 14.149. And though CMOS no longer includes an example of these abbreviations with “pp.” (our primary recommendation omits “p.” and “pp.” with page numbers in source citations), we defer to the usage established by the earlier editions of the Manual.