Legal Document Paper Rules for Color, Weight and Type

By Andrea Griffith

Some people might be surprised to find out that, when it comes to legal documents, there are certain rules for the paper's color, type, size and even weight. Also, there are clear rules as to which paper is prohibited when creating a legal document for state courts.

Size of Paper

Legal document paper size has changed throughout U.S. history. According to Robert Cummins, historical legal documents were typed--or handwritten--on 8 1/2-by-14-inch paper with the first sheet being typed on onion skin, a very thin type of paper. Today, this paper is typically referred to a "legal size" although it is no longer used for legal documents. Current legal document paper size is 8 1/2-by11-inch, and all pages in the document must be typed on the same size and type paper.

Type of Paper

The type of paper used for legal documents is known as white bond paper. White bond paper is thicker, stronger, more durable and of higher quality than regular printer paper. Bond paper is also more expensive than printer paper because of the materials used to make the paper. Bond paper is acid-free, which helps to preserve the paper from yellowing, fading, tearing or disintegrating over time.

Color and Weight of Paper

Because state and federal courts want all legal documents to be uniform, white is the only accepted color for legal documents. Bond paper does come in an off-white or cream color that may be accepted in some law offices, mortgage firms or other areas where legal forms are drawn, but they should not be used for court legal documents. The accepted weight of legal document paper should be 24 lbs or heavier.

Prohibited Paper

According to Robert Cummins, legal cap--"a red preprinted left margin"--was once used in legal document paper. Today, however, legal cap on legal document paper is prohibited. The paper used should be plain paper without grids, visible margins or lines.