Your "snip" below deleted from my original post the
main reason I gave for why intentionally blank pages
should be unambiguously labeled. The snipped part was:

"The fact that, more and more, technical manuals are
being delivered as computer files, not professionally
printed and bound paper documents, increases the
likelihood of printing errors when users print out all
or part of a manual, and thus unambiguous
identification of blank pages becomes even more

"In designing technical documentation, technical
writers have an obligation to consider the impact of
such things as printing and binding errors,
particularly when such errors could have
life-and-death consequences." 
As the military has learned, some readers of technical
documentation are not at the bright end of the mental
continuum. Unless blank pages are unambiguously
labeled so that even a low-wattage brain will get the
message, the military has learned that some very
troubling outcomes occur.

The US military conducts, as a matter of course,
thorough reviews of snafus to identify the causes of
the foulups. Instances where poorly designed or
written tech manuals contributed to a snafu are
extremely common, and corrective actions are often
recommended, which result in changes in MIL specs,
and/or changes in the validation and verification
process for military tech manuals. The standardization
was found to be the least ambiguous way to identify
blank pages, because it allows a simple training
mantra, namely: "If you find a blank page in a manual
which does not contain the above statement, something
is probably wrong. Stop what you are doing, and seek
advice from your superior."

The fact is that the US military is the only true
laboratory where technical documentation is subjected
to extensive post-publication review to determine its
effectiveness in the real world. Findings resulting
from analyses of actual foul-ups lead to continuing
improvements in tech manual instructions. Those who
write manuals for non-military applications ought to
also take advantage of that laboratory.

--- "Combs, Richard" <richard.combs at>

> Daniel Emory wrote: 
> > --- Charles Beck <Charles.Beck at> wrote:
> > > Maybe I'm missing something, and then again,
> maybe I'm not. 
> > I too have 
> > > always considered it a strange paradox when I
> see the words 
> > "This page 
> > > intentionally left blank." But there is no need
> to use it.
> > ==========================================
> > Mis-printed technical documentation has real-world
> > consequences. A printer device can misfeed two or
> more sheets 
> > at once, inserting completely blank double-sided
> sheets, or, 
> > even worse, it may print one side properly, but
> mis-feed two 
> > or more sheets at once on the second pass to
> produce the 
> > backside pages, which results in an incorrect
> blank backside 
> > for one or more pages.
> <snip> 
> > How, then, do you prevent such consequences.
> There's only one 
> > way, and that is for users to be trained that any
> completely 
> > blank page or page side constitutes an error that
> must be 
> > corrected. Consequently, every single page must
> have text. 
> > The logical solution for an intentionally blank
> page is to 
> > place the statement "THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT
> BLANK" in 
> > the center (not the edges, which may be
> incorrectly trimmed or
> > mis-printed) of the page.
> All this concern over "completely blank" pages
> strikes me as odd. But
> then, I read Charles Beck's explanation of *why*
> there's no need -- the
> part about *headers* and *footers* that's
> conveniently snipped above. 
> And "only one way"? This is beginning to sound more
> like a religion than
> techwriting advice. 
> In the past, I've used a level-1 heading that reads
> "Notes" at the top
> of the extra page (below the header's ruling line)
> -- does that lack the
> rigorous user training component that the statement
> INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK" seems to possess? 
> What about this "in the center" bit? Does it have to
> be horizontally
> centered too, or can it align left in the text
> column? For that matter,
> if you have wider inside than outside margins,
> should it be centered on
> the page or in the column? 
> For those of us who like the golden ratio, would it
> be beyond the pale
> to place the statement 1.62 times as far from the
> bottom of the page as
> from the top? I think that would be more
> aesthetically pleasing, FWIW,
> but I admit I've done no research of the effect on
> user training. 
> And since I brought it up, there's this from will
> white: 
> > Isn't there also a matter of aethetics? An empty
> chapter end 
> > page consisting only on a header and a footer is,
> in my 
> > estimation, an eyesore and an embarrassment.
> Glory be. I never thought I'd see the day when "THIS
> LEFT BLANK" was defended for aesthetic reasons. And
> by someone who
> eschews the elegance of the capital W, no less. 
> Just warming up for Friday. ;-) 
> Richard
> ------
> Richard G. Combs
> Senior Technical Writer
> Polycom, Inc.
> richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
> 303-223-5111
> ------
> rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom
> 303-777-0436
> ------
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