In aviation, we see the phrase "This page is intentionally left blank" quite often in documents like POHs, AIP etc. I can't remember seeing this in any other field. Why is that the case? Why do we see it that often in aviation related documents but nowhere else (anymore)?

There is a good answer to a general question about this phrase on UX.SE but I'm wondering specifically about its usage in aviation related contexts, especially in an age where the main distribution channel for documents is digital distribution and not paper anymore.

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    $\begingroup$ "Intentionally left blank" is used all over the place in technical documents. Intel, government contracts, reference books $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Apr 23 '19 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ This comment intentionally left blank. $\endgroup$ Apr 23 '19 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ You can print out digital documents and so it matters. Computers exist for printing more papers faster ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Apr 23 '19 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like a recent edit to this question significantly changed the meaning of this question; I've edited it again to try to change the meaning back to what the original poster intended. (The edit I'm talking about changed the meaning from "Why is the phrase 'this page intentionally left blank' used?" to "Why are there blank pages?") $\endgroup$ Apr 24 '19 at 13:07
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    $\begingroup$ It's not just in aviation. The same thing can be found in official documentation from many governments and industries. It assures the reader that the page was not accidentally left blank (e.g., because of a printing error or a collation error). $\endgroup$ Apr 24 '19 at 17:05

I've worked as a technical writer on flight and maintenance manuals in a previous life. It's done with technical publications where there is a kind of quasi-legal status you might say, insofar as the information published is required for operation or maintenance, is invalid for use if not up to date, and where pages are revised, numbered and dated with a List of Effective Pages (LOEP) that goes at the front, that confirms the issue date of each page.

It provides a ready confirmation that a blank page is not a misprint (even as a PDF or other electronic format), saving the reader from having to check against the LOEP to make sure there isn't a missing page every time a blank page appears at the end of a section.


Chapters conventionally have started on odd numbered pages, so if a chapter ends on an odd page a blank is inserted on the next even page. The reasons you'll see intentionally blank pages on digital documents are:

  • Conventions die hard in an industry as regimented as aviation
  • A document may be in both digital and print, there's no point in having 2 versions, and you need the versions to be identical or you could introduce problems. If one person refers to the digital and another a print version the pages need to be exactly the same
  • $\begingroup$ @notts90 no it’s also about the why blank pages $\endgroup$
    – Florian
    Apr 23 '19 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of technical documents don't use page numbers but a section numbering scheme. This is because revisions will result in page numbering changes anyway. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Apr 23 '19 at 21:18

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