For programming purposes, OpenGL matrices are 16-value arrays with base vectors laid out contiguously in memory. The translation components occupy the 13th, 14th, and 15th elements of the 16-element matrix, where indices are numbered from 1 to 16 as described in section 2.11.2 of the OpenGL 2.1 Specification.Column-major versus row-major is purely a notational convention. Note that post-multiplying with column-major matrices produces the same result as pre-multiplying with row-major matrices. The OpenGL Specification and the OpenGL Reference Manual both use column-major notation. You can use any notation, as long as it's clearly stated.
Sadly, the use of column-major format in the spec and blue book has resulted in endless confusion in the OpenGL programming community. Column-major notation suggests that matrices are not laid out in memory as a programmer would expect.