Backsheets

Traditionally legal documents such as conveyances and other deeds would have a backsheet page as the last page bound so that the written side was facing downwards. The purpose of the backsheet page is similar to the cover of a book. The cover of a book tells you what book it is without having to open it up and the idea of a backsheet is that an A4 document can be folded (generally along the long edge), with the backsheet (which occupies half of the final A4 page) showing as the "cover", before a ribbon is tied round the whole document to keep it in the folded position.

Sometimes old legal documents consist of a single large sheet of paper of approximately A3 size (but not exactly A3 because A3 is a modern paper size) with writing on both sides. The two illustrations below show the two sides of an example of such a document on a single large sheet of paper.



Such a document, when in use, has a single main crease making four A4 pages. You turn over the first A4 page (which commences, in the example above, with the words THIS INDENTURE in large lettering) to show pages 2 and 3 side by side (page 2 in the above example has a signature approximately half way down the page, and page three is the coloured plan showing the land being sold tinted pink) and then if you turn over again there is the final backsheet page. In the example above you can see that the backsheet is actually one-eighth the size of the sheet of paper. This is common for documents made from a single large sheet of paper: when the document is to be closed and put away, it is actually folded three times so that it becomes approximately A6 size - the size of the backsheet. A ribbon can then be applied to keep it in the folded position but most documents of this age have by now been folded so often that they naturally retain the folded position without a ribbon being necessary.

 

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This page was lasted updated in November 2018. Disclaimer