I'm reading a book out loud and it sometimes uses "f." and other times "ff." during references like: "(Harding, 274f.)" and other times there would be an "ff."

I've learned that that is an abbreviation from the Latin "folio" meaning pages that follow. And "f." means specifically a given section or chapter or what have you. And "ff." is less specific, meaning any number of pages that follow. Also, they are no longer recommended. Exact page number ranges should be used instead.

I would like to differentiate between the two in the audio format. Do you know of any way of pronouncing the difference? If there is no difference I'll just say the letter names instead of folio.

  • 1
    I’m voting to close this question because it isn't about literature, it's about how to pronounce abbreviations. Perhaps try English Language & Usage or English Language Learners?
    – bobble
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 3:34
  • 3
    @bobble I think it's about typographical conventions in physical books and so on topic? But I could be wrong.
    – verbose
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 4:35
  • @bobble I think that this is on-topic because this is an abbreviation that occurs solely in the context of literature. If this is off-topic, we'd have to ban all questions about literature-related terminology. Commented May 24, 2021 at 15:14
  • What is the language of the book where you find this type of references?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 21:39

3 Answers 3


Since f is singular (referring to one chapter or section) while ff is plural (referring to multiple pages), you could try folio for the former and folios for the latter. But it would be easier for the listener if you would say "Section/Chapter beginning on page [whatever]" for the former and "Page [whatever] and following" for the latter.

Think of it by analogy with e.g.:

  • Saying the letters "f" and "ff" would be like spelling out "e.g."
  • Saying "folio" and "folios" would be like saying "exempli gratia"
  • Saying "Section/Chapter beginning on page [whatever]" and "Page [whatever] and following" would be like saying "for example."

Either of the first two would be odd and confusing. The last is what the listener of the audiobook would expect. After all, f and ff, like "e.g.," are typographical conventions, not representations of the sound of words.

  • 4
    I guess I'm an odd and confusing person. For decades I've been pronouncing abbreviations such as e.g., i.e., P.S., and Q.E.D. by saying the letters. And I wondered why nobody understood me. Now I know.
    – user14111
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 7:31
  • 5
    @user14111 Without either agreeing or denying that you are an odd and confusing person, I shall merely remark that I too pronounce P.S. and Q.E.D. letter by letter. 🙃
    – verbose
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 8:28
  • 1
    I definitely have said "e.g." and "i.e." in the past.
    – Muzer
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 11:37
  • After thinking about this more. Is folio-folio an option? As if to say "pages and pages that follow?" When I first posted this question I was actually thinking about saying "f-folio," but I thought that was the oddest option so I didn't mention it. Commented May 24, 2021 at 17:57
  • 4
    I disagree on the first bullet point: Saying 'e.g.' and other similar abbreviations is very common in English speech, although it's stylistically a little inelegant, and would normally be understood.
    – dbmag9
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 20:40

The question does not mention the language in which that specific book is written. However, in German academic writing, the reference (Harding, 274f.) would refer to pages 274–275 in a publication by Harding listed in the bibliography or references. (The publication may be a book or an article, but there would be only one by "Harding", otherwise, the year of publication or some other information would need to be added to disambiguate the reference.)

By contrast, (Harding, 274ff.) would refer to pages 274, 275 and 276, whereas a reference to a larger number of consecutive pages tends to be written as, e.g. (Harding, 274-77.). (Admittedly, conventions can vary a bit.) The "f" stands for "und folgende [Seite]" (literally "and following [page]" and "ff" for "und folgende [Seiten]" (literally "and following [pages]").

In the English-speaking world, "f" and "ff" are sometimes also used, in which case "ff" may refer to an unspecified number of pages rather than just two. For example, the ACS style guide (by the American Chemical Society) writes (in chapter 14):

You may also indicate pagination in reference citations by “f ” or “ff ”, which mean “and following” page or pages, respectively. The f or ff is set in roman type and is spaced from the preceding number:

  • 60 f (indicates page 60 and the page following—pages 60 and 61)
  • 60 ff (indicates page 60 and pages following)
  • 58–60 ff (indicates pages 58 through 60 and pages following—essentially the same as 58 ff except that the three pages enumerated contain the most pertinent information and other relevant information is scattered on the rest of the pages)

There are contexts in which "f" may stand for "folio" in the sense of "folio-size edition". For example "F1" can stand for (Shakespeare's) First Folio, "F2" for the Second Folio, etcetera, but in Shakespeare's case, this went up to "F4; there definitely weren't 274 of them. The first folio edition of Ben Jonson's works was published in 1616 and probably inspired the first Shakespeare folio.

In other contexts, "f" can stand for "leaf" (i.e. the size of leaf that the "folio editions", above, are named after). For example, Eugene Giddens's How to Read a Shakespearen Play Tex contains the following example of a speech heading from Ben Jonson's Poetaster followed by a reference (page 87):

Hora. Tibv. Gall. Mecoe. Virg. And thanks to Caesar,
That thus hath exercis'd his patience.
(1616: Ff6)

In this case, Ff6 refers to the sixth leaf (6f) in Ben Jonson's Folio edition (F) of 1616.

However, in references such as "(Harding, 274f.)", I assume the intended meaning is page numbers, not folio editions or folio leaves.


  • Coghill, Anne M.; Garson, Lorrin R. (editors): The ACS Style Gudie: Effective Communication of Scientific Communication. Third edition. Washington: American Chemical Society, 2006.
  • Giddens, Eugene: How to Read a Shakespearean Play Text. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Similarly to verbose's answer, I think the best option is to paraphrase the abbreviation: even a listener who would recognise the meaning of f. in text may well not recognise it spoken. A good option which doesn't require rearranging the rest of the sentence would be page XX onwards, for example "Harding, page 274 onwards". You could leave out the word "page" for brevity but I think it's a little clearer with it in.

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