Best legal pad

Writing Supplies

To help prevent bleeding onto the next sheet of paper underneath the notepad, insert a scratch or recycled sheet of paper in between the pages of your notepad while you write or draw.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which legal pads are best?

Whether you are starting a new office job or are a seasoned corporate employee, you may have come across legal pads at your workplace or meetings and possibly have a few stored at home. Legal pads are favored for easy note-taking, and the Amazon Basics Legal/Wide Ruled 8 1/2 by 11 3/4 Legal Pad – Canary (50 Sheet Paper Pads, 12 pack) is both an affordable and quality legal pad. This pick is the true legal size, complete with cardboard backing and smooth binding at the top. 

What to know before you buy a legal pad

Legal pad defined

Legal pads tend to be less capacious than notebooks, holding around 50 pages per pad, with a glued paper binding near the top and cardboard backing to help hold the pages in place. Legal pads earned the name because of the size of the paper and margins. Legal-size paper is 8.5 inches by 11.75 inches, with red margin lines called down lines 1.25 inches from the left side of the paper. It is these red lines that make legal pads “legal.”

Portfolio folders

A fellow office-supply companion to the legal pad is the portfolio folder. These folders are typically used by professionals and have a space specifically made to fit a legal pad, but anyone can buy their own portfolio folder. They are usually made out of faux leather and can be engraved. Portfolio folders can hold legal pads, ink pens and other important materials in place, making it easier to write and keep important notes safe while traveling. 

Other uses

Legal pads are not just for traditional office workers: From artists to comedy writers, lots of different professionals use these pads for sketching and jotting down ideas. Since they are not spiral-bound like notebooks, left-handed people find these easier to write and draw in. Many politicians and speech writers even prefer legal pads over notebooks. 

What to look for in a quality legal pad

Buy in packs

Because legal pads don’t typically contain many pages, purchasing packs of pads is budget-conscious and lets you have pads for different subjects or topics if needed. Most legal pads tend to come in packs of 10 or more, so finding packs is not difficult and can save you money over time. 

Color options

Legal pads usually come in colors like white or the canary yellow that is the most popular, but legal pads can also come in pastel colors like pale pink and light blue. These color options give some creative expression in your office supplies. 

Smaller sizes

Also called junior pads, smaller legal pads are great for note-taking on the go or making to-do lists. Journalists and reporters tend to use these because of their hand-held size. Small legal pads are easier to travel with and keep in your vehicle, at home or at work. Storing a couple of small pads in these places ensures that you will never be short on note pads for when you or someone else might need one. 

How much you can expect to spend on a legal pad

Legal pads are relatively inexpensive, with costs ranging from $1 per pad up to $25 for large packs of 12 or more. 

Legal pad FAQ

Why are legal pads yellow?

A. There is no clear answer as to why most legal pads are yellow, although they can come in many colors. Canary or pale yellow tends to be the most commonly used; one theory is that the color is less harsh on the eyes and can “stimulate the mind.”

Are legal pads better than notebooks?

A. This is more about preference and the need. For example, legal pads are commonly used in portfolio folders, whereas notebooks stand alone and tend to be used for specific subjects or classes. Many people prefer legal pads for work meetings, but others like the look of notebooks and the fact that they hold more paper. 

What’s the best legal pad to buy?

Top legal pad 

Amazon Basics Legal/Wide Ruled 8 1/2 by 11 3/4 Legal Pad - Canary (50 Sheet Paper Pads, 12 pack)

Amazon Basics Legal/Wide Ruled 8 1/2 by 11 3/4 Legal Pad – Canary (50 Sheet Paper Pads, 12 pack)

What you need to know: Wide-ruled legal pad for ample space for easy reading and writing for the office or home. 

What you’ll love: The perforated sheets on the pad make work convenient to share with colleagues, and the pads come in packs of 12, making them a very affordable buy. 

What you should consider: The paper is thin, which can limit what types of pens and pencils are used. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top legal pad for the money

Amazon Basics Writing Pads, 5 Inches by 8 Inches, Narrow-Ruled, Six-Pack

Amazon Basics Writing Pads, 5 Inches by 8 Inches, Narrow-Ruled, Six-Pack

What you need to know: A miniature version of the larger legal size, perfect for note taking on the go. 

What you’ll love: These smaller writing pads come in different colors and are the right size for taking quick notes at meetings or events, and can be easily kept in bags and purses. 

What you should consider: Manufacturing errors like poor binding and uneven pages can be seen in some batches. These pads are not legal-size. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Tops The Legal Pad Writing Pads, 8 ½ Inches by 11 ¾ Inches, Canary Paper, Legal Rule, 50 Sheets, 12-Pack

Tops The Legal Pad Writing Pads, 8 ½ Inches by 11 ¾ Inches, Canary Paper, Legal Rule, 50 Sheets, 12-Pack

What you need to know: This is a high-quality legal pad from one of the most notable office supply brands. 

What you’ll love: Getting a pack of 12 legal pads for this price is a true bargain, especially given the quality of the paper, binding and perforation. 

What you should consider: The perforation in the sheets is under the binding, making it difficult to get a clean tear at times. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Shelby Sears writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss