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I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask, but since my examples come from a UX element that seems common in our world.

When a user opens the "Print" dialog of most programs, where you're asked "What page(s) would you like to print?" So, you have a list of values, most commonly a few random numbers and/or a few number-ranges, where you dash-delimit your continuous ranges, and you comma-separate distinct values or additional value-ranges.

So if the user wants their application to print just pages "one to three, five, and eight to nine", the notation would be "1-3,5,8-9". Also accepted is "1-3,5,8,9".

So what do we call this notation/pattern? Is there a specific name for this pattern?

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Yes, it's called page citation notation.

The notation is based on formal text citations. For example, the ASA Lite and APA Reference standards use notations where page ranges are denoted by hyphens (e.g. 100-113) and multiple pages/ranges are separated by commas (e.g. 1, 5, 23-45).

From the APA guidelines:

  • Give inclusive numbers for articles or sections of books.
  • Use the abbreviation p. for one page number or pp. before multiple page numbers for newspaper articles, works in anthologies, or encyclopedias. DO NOT use anything before page numbers of articles appearing in magazines and journals.
  • List all pages with discontinuous numbers set off by commas: 32, 44-45, 47-49, 53

From ASA Style Lite:

  • When citing page numbers there is no space after the colon; multiple page numbers are separated by commas (Smith 2001:123, 456).
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  • I like it! So if I were writing a design-doc, say, where this notation is to be used, but not in reference to pages/page-numbers, would I still call it "page citation notation", or would I say "<widget> citation notation"? Or just not bother and say "enter the <widget #s> like this" and give examples? – NateJ Mar 11 '15 at 22:56
  • @NateJ I'd suggest using the term page citation, but adding a footnote or an example (e.g. 1, 23-28, 7). From a "UX" philosophy that introduces the correct term but also provides a convenient definition :-) Good luck! – tohster Mar 11 '15 at 22:59

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