Why the Yellow Pages Are Yellow

The iconic Yellow Pages, a staple in homes and businesses for decades, owes its existence to a happy accident. In the late 19th century, when telephone directories were a novel concept, business listings were simply a part of the regular phone book printed on white paper. However, during a routine printing run, the publisher ran out of white paper. In a bid to continue production without delay, the printer resorted to using yellow paper for the business listings. This unexpected choice not only solved the immediate problem, but it also led to an unforeseen advantage. The Yellow Pages stood out distinctly from the rest of the phone book, making it easier for users to flip directly to the business listings. Despite the decline in usage of physical phone directories today, the term “Yellow Pages” is still used, even in the digital realm.