I have sometimes seen that when the 'half title' page of a book (the page that goes before the title page) is left in blank (which is one of the possible alternatives), a message such as 'This page is intentionally left blank' is included in that page, in the PDF version of the book.

Do you agree with this practice? Do you recommend it?

I ask this because I actually left blank the half-title page in my book, and the PDF looks a bit strange, in the sense that many people is going to think that there is something missing or that one extra blank page was added by mistake.

On the other hand, I think that adding such a message in the PDF version actually breaks the intention of that blank page, which is, creating a blank space in the transition from the cover to the title page.

So, what is your experience, opinion, etc. about this matter?


2 Answers 2


Intentionally blank pages only serve a function in a printed piece (they are leftovers at the end of a form, or sheaf of pages which come in a multiple of four). There's no reason to have them in a PDF. If I were to see a "blank page" in an e-book, I'd assume it was a formatting mistake. Why would you leave it in?

Additionally, the only place I've ever even seen that specific wording is in legal or financial documents, because every word in those documents is critical. The phrase lets the reader know that there isn't additional important information missing, and that the text is complete. There's no reason to use that phrase when printing a novel unless the author wants it there.

  • 1
    Just for the record, what I finally did was letting that page blank in the PDF version (as in the printed version) without adding any message in it. But, in the PDF label for that page (which is visible when navigating the document structure in a PDF viewer) I added the message "[This page is intentionally left blank]".
    – Vicent
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 10:40
  • 2
    If a PDF is intended to allow someone to print it double-sided and place it in a binder, intentionally-blank pages can ensure that appropriate pages end up on the left and right side of each pair. Having something to say the page is blank can be helpful when viewing pages on-line, since someone might otherwise wait for a page to render.
    – supercat
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 17:48
  • @supercat Your first point is good, but it still has to do with printing, which was my original comment. As far as "rendering a blank page online," I would just remove the blank page. Why leave it in and waste time and data load, even if it's only a few bytes? Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 21:19
  • I think this is not only about printing. Many PDF viewers have a function to display two pages at a time, and blank pages might be needed in order to make the layout match the printed one. With the "two pages" layout option turned on, the very first page is displayed separately, as it is typically the title page and on the right-hand side. But when a book cover is also included, this could lead to the title page being shown on the left. Thus, an empty page representing the inside of the cover might be needed. Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 13:48
  • @IlariScheinin 1) Yes, but that blank page doesn't have "This page is intentionally blank" written on it. It's just a blank page so that the title starts on a right, which is a convention of left-to-right reading. 2) When you're reading a PDF, it doesn't matter if the title is on the left or right of your screen. "Title page on the right" is an artifact of printing, which is again my point. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 1:41

Personally I hate the massive red, blue green or black text saying this page is left blank intentionally. I feel the reader is intelligent enough to see when its a page break and when something is missing.

If you feel its necessary, I would just make a faint mark at the bottom saying so. Or what about setting a new icon at the bottom or an illustration that doesn't break the rhythm and gives the necessary break in the text. Could be as faint as possible.

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