Office Guides > How to Choose a Legal Pad


Legal Pads may or may not be ordered with legal ruling and in legal size paper. In fact, neither the width of the rules (or lines) on the paper nor the size of the paper on the pad classify a pad of paper as a “Legal Pad”. If you are still unsure, here are some helpful tips to make it EZ-ier to understand which Legal Pad you need to order.

What exactly is a Legal Pad?

The only requirement for a pad of writing paper to qualify as a “legal pad” is that the paper must have a 1-1/4” vertical line (aka “down line”) placed from the left edge of the page. The original and traditional appearance of the legal pad had yellow paper, blue horizontal lines, a red vertical line creating a left margin and a red gummed top. Today, that is no longer the case.

Note: A “legal pad” does not mean that the paper size on the pad itself is legal-size (8-1/2”W x 14”L), although it can be ordered that way. A Legal Pad just means the paper on the pad has a vertical line drawn down creating a 1-1/4” margin from the left side.

What paper sizes are Legal Pads made in?

In North America, we are generally accustomed to reading width, length and height displayed in fractions, versus decimals or millimeters. Therefore, Legal Pads generally come in four different sizes:

  • A6 Size: 4-3/25” wide X 5-22/25” long
  • Junior Legal Size: 5” wide X 8” long
  • Legal Size: 8-1/2” wide X 14” long
  • Letter Size: 8-1/2” wide X 11” long

What does Ruled or Ruling mean on a Legal Pad?

“Ruled” or “Ruling” simply refers to the horizontal lines on the paper. But! The ruled lines come in different widths and consequently create more or less lines on the piece of paper.

What widths of Ruling can be chosen for the paper on a Legal Pad?

In North America, ruled paper is available in a variety of semi-standardized formats. Remember, all legal pads have a vertical line drawn 1-1/4” from top to bottom on the left side of the paper to create a margin:

  • Wide ruled. Also known as Legal Ruled.
    • 11/32” line spacing between lines – has the least number of lines on the page
    • Choose wide ruled or legal ruled if you write large
    • Often used in American grade schools
  • Medium ruled. Also known as College Ruled.
    • 9/32” spacing between lines – has more lines on the page than wide ruled
    • Its use is very common in the United States
  • Narrow ruled.
    • 1/4” spacing between lines – has the most number of lines on the page
    • Choose narrow ruled if you write small, if you need more lines per page, or if you’re a glutton for punishment when required to write a 2-page paper for school (you’ll have a lot more lines to fill with text)

Does a Legal Pad mean the paper is always yellow?

No. The original Legal Pad was made by dying the paper yellow. Other than speculation, nobody really knows why. In fact, it’s more expensive to buy a yellow legal pad than a white one. Today, legal pads (with the 1-1/4” margin on the left) come in a variety of colors:

  • Yellow (also called Canary)
  • White
  • Blue
  • Gray
  • Green
  • Ivory
  • Orchid
  • Pink

The next time someone says; “Order me some legal pads, will ya?” You’ll know to follow with: “Sure, I would be happy to. First, tell me…”

  1. What size do you want the paper to be…Letter, Legal, Junior Legal, or A6 paper?
  2. What ruling would you like…Wide, medium or narrow?
  3. What color would you like the paper?


EZ Office Products is a proud paper supplier for all your office supplies needs. Contact us today to set up your customer account.