608: Form

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'This space intentionally left blank' is less immediately provocative but more Hofstadterially confusing.
Title text: 'This space intentionally left blank' is less immediately provocative but more Hofstadterially confusing.


Application forms, examination papers, etc. sometimes instruct applicants to avoid writing in blocked out areas of the page, as those areas are intended for administrative, office, or internal usage or processing.

Nonetheless, a person might write in the blocked out section out of an urge to defy authority, as does Cueball in the comic. Consequences for flouting these instructions are typically trivial (e.g. perhaps the form may not be processed correctly). However, Cueball's disregard for the rules prompts the preparations for an armed response by some sort of law enforcement or private security organization, presenting a serious consequence for Cueball.

The title text refers to Douglas Hofstadter, an author associated with the philosophical concept of self-reference. "This space intentionally left blank" is "Hofstadterially confusing" because if a space on a form contains the words "This space intentionally left blank", then the space is not, in fact, left blank. In sufficiently pedantic organizations the phrase has been modified to some variation of "this space intentionally left mostly blank".

Douglas Hofstadter is also the subject of the comic 917: Hofstadter.

A similarly harsh consequence for a trivial misdemeanor can be seen in both 292: goto and 499: Scantron.


[There is a sheet of paper, with a series of check boxes. A white rectangle is the focus.]
Do not write in this space
[Cueball is standing with a pencil, looking at the page.]
[Cueball writes something on the page.]
[A group of people with helmets, black goggles, and rifles look at display screens. There is a radar system on a table between them.]
[The screens show sheets of paper. On one screen, it shows Cueball writing.]
[One of the men arms his weapon.]

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This space intentionally left without relevant content. Cflare (talk) 21:20, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

No Comment!

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 09:17, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

The quote in the title refers to the phrase 'This page intentionally left blank' used in old IBM manuals. Large systems came with a manual rack nearly 2 meters long. The manuals had to be updated now and then when IBM sent 'change pages' to replace pages describing things that had been updated. Sometimes the change pages had less text than the pages they were replacing, so the page number sequence would appear to have a page missing. To avoid confusion, a blank page containing the above rubric would be provided. 20:44, 15 October 2016 (UTC)

“This page intentionally left blank is not unique to IBM manuals. I have encountered it several times in standardized tests in schools. However your comment was helpful in clarifying the purpose, I hadn’t thought about the fact that the tests would often have the teacher say “turn to page 37” and similar, and would need to accommodate the fact that there were multiple different versions of the test with varying content, hence potentially varying length too. Thus the included “blank pages” to result in consistent numbers. PotatoGod (talk) 02:52, 9 April 2018 (UTC)

In some cases (like scantron forms), a space is left blank because a light will be shined through the paper to read the responses (typically filled-in circles) on the other side, so any writing on the visible side might be erroneously read as a response on the other side. 13:35, 13 June 2023 (UTC)