What is legal paper?

Legal paper was originally designed to accommodate the extra text of lengthy documents – plus there’s the old (and admittedly not particularly funny) joke about lawyers taking 100 words to say what most ordinary people can convey in 20. But its extra size traditionally made it easier to make notes and suggest changes. (Sometimes, legal paper is also known as foolscap.)

And while it was kept exclusively for legal matters for decades, of course it doesn’t have to be used only by law firms. Essentially, it suits longer documents, including academic theses and dissertations, and because it tends to be thicker than standard, you can use both sides of it. The longer length means you reduce volume as well as total weight.

The greater length of the paper also allows more words per page and so keeps the most important information of the document on a single sheet. There’s also room for a signature line.

Legal paper colours

As a convention, most court papers are cream or white, while lawyers tend to favour pale-yellow legal pads, ruled and with a particular size of margin. But, of course, if you are not using this paper in a legal setting, you can use whatever colour you like! Academic submissions, however, should still be printed on white or cream.

Legal paper, however, does come in varied shades, including:

  • Green
  • Pink
  • Other pastel shades including yellow, ivory and blue
  • Mid colours that are a shade darker such as red, orange, lilac and gold

Types of legal paper

Indian legal paper

Convention dictates that Indian legal paper is in pale green, which still allows black text to be clearly legible. The size is 356mm x 216mm, identical to that of the American version of this type of paper. And you can print on standard inkjet or laser printers, as long as you can adjust the tray to the bigger size of paper.

GSM stands for ‘grams per square metre’ and refers to the weight of the paper. The heavier it is, the higher the gsm – and, in turn, the higher the perceived quality of the product. Standard Indian legal paper is 80gsm, but it is also available as 60gsm, and in heavier weights of 120 and 160gsm.

Indian legal paper

American legal paper

Standard-sized American legal paper is typically 356 x 216mm or 14 x 8.5″. This product is available in various weights; however, the most common thickness is 80gsm. Again, it comes in a number of different colours, including ivory, green, blue, pink and yellow, as well as slightly darker mid colours including red, orange, lilac and gold.

And, once again, it comes in different weights, but you’ll most often found it sold as 80gsm.

American legal paper

UK legal paper

UK legal paper is 330x203mm, and it is supplied in various weights from 60gsm right up to 120gsm, with the 80gsm version being the most common. And while white is the most popular colour, you’ll also find it in other hues including yellow, blue, green, pink or ivory.

Interestingly, most of the legal paper we sell at Octopus Office is for the film industry, which uses it as a prop for movies set before A4 became the universal paper size.

We supply legal paper UK-wide and into Ireland and Europe, delivering across Manchester and Cheshire with same-day arrival where necessary. Shipping is free on orders of £30 (excluding VAT), and we’ll generally have your paper with you within a couple of working days.

You can also collect from our Stockport base if that’s easier for you and you’re in the area. Give us a call today if you have any questions about legal paper.

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