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Yellow legal paper vs white legal paper
May 13, 2006 3:58 AM   Subscribe

Is there any benefit to using the yellow legal-pads instead of the white legal-pads. I used to buy the yellow for note taking simply because they were cheaper, but now I am finding I perfer the white. I am simply curious if the yellow paper has any benecit such as being better for the eyes or something, or if it is entirely just personal preference.
posted by dbooster to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
There were studies a few years back that claimed that information contained within black text on a yellow background was retained in human memory at a higher rate than other combinations (e.g., blue ink on white paper). I'll try to find a link to the studies, if possible. Personally, I find the yellow slightly easier on my eyes.
posted by flyingrock at 4:12 AM on May 13, 2006


I think the contrast is just less harsh on yellow. I prefer yellow, also.
posted by vanoakenfold at 5:03 AM on May 13, 2006


Yellow is helpful if you're using it in conjunction with other documents printed on standard white paper. It can always be found.
posted by wallaby at 5:23 AM on May 13, 2006


This articles gives "The illustrious history of the yellow legal pad."
posted by pierow at 6:09 AM on May 13, 2006


yellow is easier on the eyes (IMHO) and white is easier on the recycling stream
posted by caddis at 6:21 AM on May 13, 2006


Could others confirm/disconfirm this--I believe yellow pads are an American phenomenon. I don't think I've seen it anywhere else I've traveled or worked.

I also prefer white pads over yellow. In case of Post-it's, I can see the argument for the color yellow, since its highlighting effect serves as the primary function. But in notebook pads?

That said, I prefer off-white or unbleached sheets over white. They are much friendlier to eye, not as harshly contrasting, and in case of unbleached, environmentally conscious. I've seen and used them while working in Asia.

If you're curious for more, searching the web for 'color effects on vision' should give you information like this.
posted by MD06 at 6:59 AM on May 13, 2006


MD06: I never saw the yellow in Ireland, when I was buying tons of stationary for college, although they may be there now.

I agree with Wallaby above, the big advantage for yellow pads to me is the ability to find my meeting notes and notes of phone conversations amid a folder of white reports etc.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2006


I never saw the yellow in Ireland, when I was buying tons of stationary for college, although they may be there now.

I don't think we have them here at all, but next time I'm near Reads (of Nassau Street!) I'll pop in to have a look.
posted by macdara at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2006


As far as the question goes -- not that this helps much -- I would much prefer yellow to white for ease on the vision. But the legal pads I've seen on TV or online are quite a deep golden yellow, maybe too dark. If some stationer somewhere made something between that colour and white, I'd by that for a dollar.
posted by macdara at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2006


Wallaby has got why I like to use yellow - if I've got a bunch of other stuff on the table, I like to be able to easily seperate out all my notes that have been interleaved with actual documentation.
posted by voidcontext at 9:42 AM on May 13, 2006


Could others confirm/disconfirm this--I believe yellow pads are an American phenomenon. I don't think I've seen it anywhere else I've traveled or worked.

The reason that the original legal pads were yellow, is that they were made from ground-up Egyptian mummies.
posted by veedubya at 9:59 AM on May 13, 2006


Could others confirm/disconfirm this--I believe yellow pads are an American phenomenon. I don't think I've seen it anywhere else I've traveled or worked.

Very much so. I believe you might find the odd yellow A4 pad in British stationery shops these days solely because Americans have asked for them, or Brits have seen them on American TV imports. But it's just a bit weird. Also, legal size? WTF?

My suspicion is that the garish yellow dye either derives from an attempt in the past to mask off-white paper without bleaching, or an attempt to emulate it which got out of hand. Any archivists around?
posted by holgate at 10:55 AM on May 13, 2006


Slightly off-topic, but related...

I always print documents on 32 lb. ivory paper. I've been alternatively told that (a) it's quite nice, and (b) it's pretentious. But honestly, it's simply a habit formed over many years of leading a band: White paper bleeds under stage lights, and low-weight paper stock collapses on music stands. I hand-copy all my parts and then bring the inked originals to a copy shop (NEVER distribute originals to musicians, especially brass players), so I buy huge boxes of 32 lb. ivory paper to feed into the machines — and then, when I need to print something else, that's just the paper I have on hand.

I use graph paper for a similar reason: It's a 20-year holdover from grade school, when I played Dungeons & Dragons and used graph paper for character sheets and plotting dungeons. When I had to write something else, that was the paper I had; and eventually, I grew accustomed to it. Today, college-ruled (or "theme paper") feels too unstructured and free-form for me; I like having vertical lines to align my paragraphs. Similarly, yes, after years of reading off ivory paper, the contrast on cheap white stock hurts my eyes.

You might be able to find some info about this subject by researching Barnes & Noble's Classics imprint. When they published the first run, they printed on stark white pages with a weird font that allowed too much white space between characters. It bugged me a lot — and obviously I wasn't the only one, because those versions were quickly taken out of circulation and the later editions were published with a more traditional font on a softer, ivory paper. The new versions are actually quite nice books, I think.
posted by cribcage at 1:20 PM on May 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


holgate: It's called legal because lawyers use it (I think), not because there are any illegal sizes.

As an American who grew up without ever really using legal pads, I have to say that I have always found the idea of the yellow paper a bit weird. I do use them sometimes, but only because of the size and the fact that employers tend to provide them.
posted by bingo at 11:25 PM on May 13, 2006


holgate: It's called legal because lawyers use it (I think), not because there are any illegal sizes.

Yes, I didn't make my 'WTF' clear enough: it's the dimensions of legal size (11x14in, no?) that are so strange to me. (A4 all the way, baby.)

Are there any archivists here who get to see older legal pads as part of their work? My guess is that they'll be closer to ivory in colour, rather than the garish Post-It yellow you now see.
posted by holgate at 8:36 AM on May 15, 2006


http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/May-June-2005/scene_snider_mayjun05.msp
posted by popechunk at 8:46 PM on September 19, 2006


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