Legal Pads

What exactly makes a legal pad, um, “legal”?

My guess is that it’s composed of paper sized 11" by 14" (also known as Legal Size paper).

If memory serves, Cecil essentially answered this question a while back in a discussion that also explained why “standard” (or letter) size is NOT standardized at all worldwide. Something to do with the size of original “tablets” or “pads” and how they get cut up into quarters.

8.5" x 14" is legal size in the world of paper, but I also see 8.5" x 11" pads (Letter size to your copier) called legal pads.

IIRC, several years ago federal courts, and now I suppose, most others, quit accepting filings of documents on the 8.5" x 14" paper.

Right beatle – I see the same in my agency - 8 1/2 X 11 are called “legal pads” too. I suspect this came about because the 8 1/2 x 14 paper was just too unwieldy. I was always folding the bottom 3" up so they’d fit with my other papers and folders - those extra inches would get wrinkly or torn otherwise. Even tho there are legal size folders, that length is awkward to deal with.

8 1/2 x 14 pads were traditionally used in law offices, hence the name. They’ve probably switched to 8 1/2 x 11 by now, but still need pads, so the smaller version is also called legal pads (though they’re not made of legal size (8 1/2 x 14) paper).

Odd paper sizes aren’t exactly new. Up through the 1960s, the Federal government used 8 x 10 in. paper.

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

There’s also “resume size” – to match up sizewize with 8 x 10 photos.

your humble TubaDiva

Yeah. But why are they yellow?

Yeah, why ARE they yellow? And I noticed something else: On the top of my “legal pad,” it reads, “Legal Ruled Pad.” The ruled lines seem no different than those on any other paper, but I wonder if perhaps this is in reference to the three peculiar lines that partition off the left margin. Are they part of this “ruling”? Is THAT what makes it “legal”? Why are there three lines anyway? And why are they red?

To my knowledge, “legal”-sized paper has been illegal in California court filings for over a decade at least.

Paper used to be yellow when it was recycled for lower cost, I believe in order to cover up an ugly non-while natural color. Maybe tradition keeps “legal pads” yellow. I don’t believe any attorney ever worried about the cost of paper.

Ray (Legality is in the eye of the enforcer.)

Cecil’s column on the origin of the size of legal size pads:

My understanding of “legal-sized” paper is that the extra length was to accommodate signatures and seals. I don’t know why it’s yellow, but in our office (as in many legal offices) draft documents are on yellow paper to easily distinguish them from final documents. I don’t think that has anything to do with why legal pads are yellow, though . . . .


Fiat Justitia

They’re yellow because yellow is supposed to be easier on the eyes than reading from white paper (less glare). These days, however, you’re less likely to find yellow paper because it’s more difficult to recycle than white paper.

My law office uses letter-sized legal pads. Our supply room does stock the larger size, but almost no one uses them any more. They’re still yellow, though. I prefer yellow to white, because that makes my notes (which are on the yellow legal-pad paper) easier to find among all the white printed or typed documents in a file.

I always figured that “legal pads” were what female lawyers used at “that time” :slight_smile:

::: Ducking as Jodi and Melin start throwing things ::::