The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 February 2006

This has gone on too long

At least, Chad the Elder thinks so:

Why in this fast-paced world of I-Pods, TiVo, high-speed internet, DVRs, one-click ordering, HDTV, file-sharing, PDFs, and wireless this and wireless that, do we still insist on using legal paper (8½" x 14") for things like mortgages and loans? I understand that the law talking elite might prefer to use a legal pad for scribblin' their notes and doodling, but why must the rest of us, the folks, be forced to deal with documents designed for the shyster set?

Everything in my office at home; binders, file folders, hanging folders, file drawers, and the fireproof safe is set up to store the standard, widely-accepted and used 8" x 11" documents. So when I get handed a stack of important legal papers at the bank and wish to preserve them for posterity's sake, I'm forced to fold, bend, spindle, or mutilate them in order to get them to fit. What's the deal with that?

I can barely resist posting this explanation:

This history of legal size paper (8.5" x 14") is unclear, although most historians agree it is a descendant of "foolscap," a traditional British paper size dating back to the 16th century. About 8.5" x 13.5", foolscap was used for official documents and it is believed that the size has been retained by the legal community more for tradition than for any practical purpose.

Incidentally, "foolscap" refers to the watermark once used by a major producer of paper in this size; it is not a snide commentary on the quality of legal documents. I think.

Even more incidentally, I have an actual legal-size scanner, which has one distinct advantage, at least for me, over its smaller brothers: it can do an LP jacket (around 12½" by 12½") in two passes rather than four. (Works pretty well, too.)

Posted at 11:17 AM to Dyssynergy


Legal sized paper reminds lawyers of dollar bills.

Posted by: Greg Hlatky at 3:42 PM on 5 February 2006

Doesn't everything?

Posted by: CGHill at 3:44 PM on 5 February 2006