I am creating an index for a non-fiction book, and I am using LibreOffice writer. It has functions that help generate an index. When it does so, some of my entries look like this:

stuff..... 9, 12pp., 20, 27, 134p.

What I can't figure out is what these "p." and "pp." designations stand for. I think it has to do with the entry being on contiguous pages or not, but by looking through my index and their entries, sometimes more than one page is involved, sometimes not... it's not easy to discern the pattern from what is happening in my book.

Also, of course I looked around the web, and I've seen "pp" used when designating sequences of pages, but in that case the beginning and end are identified, something like "pp18~20". I've also seen "pg" mentioned as being a single page, but I'm not clear on why you would need that, and if it's different from a single "p".

What does "pp." mean, and what does "p." mean?

Note that this is not a technical question about whether or nor I can or can make LibreOffice create or not create these "pp." and "p." designations. First I want to know what they mean from the point of view of creating an index in general. Once I understand what they are, then I'll work out whether or not it's worth dealing with the software.

  • I think this is not a question about how to write but about how a specific software works and therefore off topic here. – user5645 Sep 10 '14 at 6:57
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    @what, was the last paragraph not clear in addressing that concern? – Questioner Sep 10 '14 at 8:05
  • If your question is about the meaning and usage of common English abbreviations, then it is not about writing either and should go on English SE. – user5645 Sep 11 '14 at 7:49
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    @what : IMHO, creating and formatting a book's index is on-topic. Though a lot of our posts are about the creative side of writing, the technical aspects (including common usage and norms) are on-topic as well. – Standback Sep 11 '14 at 8:52
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    Indeed, unless the community is limiting itself to fiction-only questions, this question should be addressed. Especially since a) it is apparently abnormal and b) concerns a piece of software many authors use. – Anaksunaman Sep 12 '14 at 4:54

This does not seem to follow conventional usage.

It is common in indexes or other references to a page number, that if you want to specify that something begins on one page but continues or repeats on the following pages, you give the page number followed by "ff", e.g. "page 24 ff", meaning, "page 24 and following". In a condensed format like an index, you might just put "24ff", like "foobars ... 5,17,123ff,204".

"p" is often used as an abbreviation for "page" and "pp" for pages, with or without a period, as in "found on p. 10" or "See also pp 33-39". But I've never seen this put after the page number and I'm not sure what it would mean.

I think the developers of your software just invented their own convention. Or perhaps this is a convention used in some specific field. Or maybe it's a regionalism, something commonly done in Ruritanian English or whatever but not in other parts of the world. Anybody know who can chime in on that?

  • I've seen N pp. used instead of N ff, but I agree it is rather uncommon. The advantage is that it reduces the number of abbreviations used in a document that the reader needs to be aware of, if it is used together with the entirely idiomatic pp. M-N usage. – Charles Stewart Sep 12 '14 at 7:33

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