Why Are Telephone Directory Of Businesses Printed On “Yellow Pages”?

Do you remember yellow pages? Yes, there was a time households relied on printed telephone directories to find the number of any given business.

But then… internet happened and printed yellow pages became obsolete (in the UK, they are discontinued as of January 2019). But have you ever wondered why yellow pages are yellow?

Well, we certainly did so we decided to have a look. Here’s how it goes. (the article continues after the ad)

The truth is no one knows for sure why business telephone directories are printed on yellow pages instead of white. The most popular theory is that a printer in Cheyenne, Wyoming ran out of white paper and instead of waiting for a new shipment, used yellow instead. Surprisingly, people liked it and yellow became the standard page color for commercial telephone directories (white pages were used for non-commercial listings).

Even though there are several references to this story on the internet, there is no actual source to backup this claim. No one seems to know the name of the printing company that first used yellow paper. No interview was found, there is no mention of this story on newspapers of the era, no actual proof that this was indeed the story. 

What we know for sure is that in 1886, the Chicago based Reuben H. Donnelley publishing corporation was the first to establish a Yellow Pages directory, which helped creating an entire industry know as the Yellow Pages.

In the years to come, studies revealed that black text on yellow background is preferred by people with dyslexia as it improves readability.

If you like what you read then you will definitely love this one: 3M Finally Answers The Question: Why Are Post-it Notes Yellow?

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Main Article Photo:  Andrew Sullivan Kabl00ey / Wikimedia
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Yellow Pages to stop printing from January 2019 | A Short History of The Yellow Pages | Walking the Tours | Yellow Pages | R for recovery plan? Yell plots digital future | OPTIMAL COLORS TO IMPROVE READABILITY FOR PEOPLE WITH DYSLEXIA

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