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I just received a review comment asking for the “intentionally left blank” text on the inside back cover of a PDF user doc (medical equipment). I rejected it on the grounds that it is not a requirement in our style guide, and the location of the page makes it clear that information is not missing because of a printing error.

I was wondering if anyone does use this text, and if so, what the motivation or requirement for it is? Is it a legal thing?


It is not a legal thing. The only time I ever see it used is if the document is intended to be printed and you know that the document will be printed two-sided. Most often these days, PDF documents are viewed online, and they are not always printed two-sided. (You would want a blank page in order to start a new chapter on an odd page.)

If you know how the PDF is intended to be used, and it will likely be viewed online, or printed in chunks (as in, a page here or there), printed one-sided, or your tool automatically numbers chapters so that they start on an odd page, then you can forgo the “intentionally left blank” statement. Most people these days are smart enough to figure out when there is a blank page somewhere…

(Of course, your mileage may vary, but I will say, it’s probably been maybe the late 80’s since I’ve had anyone on my team add this statement in a manual…)



Thanks Sue, I had a feeling it had become a museum exhibit. We do have a requirement to supply a paper version to a customer on request, but even so, I agree it is not necessary.




I still have docs with that comment for one DOT (department of transportation) that prints everything. I really don’t like adding this I don’t think people are that dumb. If you feel that changing chapters requires to start on an odd page, you might have white pages. BUT, IMHO, it should not be used and I do it only if the project manager tells me that his customer is very picky and wants all his pages to start on the odd page number and that he needs the mention.


I come from traditional publishing, and I like the left-right thing when I am reading an actual real book, but I agree that for e.g. a PDF delivered electronically, it is pointless. And equally pointless if the PDF is then printed on a desktop printer, which is the one situation where I can possibly, just maybe, perhaps see a use for “intentionally left blank”. Even if the headers and footers and general flow/sense of the text indicate that nothing bad happened.

I’d be annoyed if I was reading a bound book and the “intentionally left blank” message appeared at the end of a chapter. Just like when I buy a takeaway coffee, I know that the contents of the cup are hot. (I don’t really drink iced coffee.)


I agree that Left Blank is really not required and left/right layout is outmoded now that docs aren’t primarily for printing.
That being said, the FDA has fussy requirements so it’s good to try to figure out how they feel about it and then do whatever they want.


Hi Catherine, about the FDA - agreed! We are currently looking at their guidelines for electronic documentation.