Whatever happened to …

… full scap?

This week’s post will be different. The idea was sent to me by Lori St. Amand (@FirstGradeLori on Twitter) and took me by surprise as we went back and forth with this one.

Basically, it was …

Me: Are we talking “foolscap”?

Lori: No, full scap.

(Actually shorter versions of our back and forth on this!)

Because if we were talking foolscap, I was already writing this post in my mind. I’ve heard “foolscap” pronounced as “full scap” but that was the extent of my knowledge.

Google was no better.

To back her suggestion, Lori showed me a personal piece of writing from her Grade 2 class that she had shared with her own class.

As a check for standards, she looked at some report cards from back in the day and her grade for printing was “C”.

In addition to the concept of full scap, Lori also remembers half scap. Mind blown here.

Now, normally when I write these Sunday morning posts, I have a sense of what I’m writing about and my wondering. Lori has me stumped here. I certainly am wondering but I’m stumped when it comes to “full scap” and “half scap” in my memories.

Never wishing to be stumped I continued to look and found a couple of internet sites that actually do sell “full scap”. It’s located here and another one here.

Looking at Lori’s work, I can remember some paper like that but I honestly don’t know that we actually had a name for it.

For a Sunday morning, please educate me.

  • do the terms “full scap” and “half scap” have meaning for you?
  • is there another name for the paper Lori’s work is written on?
  • both of the places that are selling “full scap” are not from Canada – is it a cultural thing?
  • would you give her a C for printing?
  • I’m actually interested in the paper. Back in the day, you might go into a Stedman’s to buy paper. It would be 8.5 x 11 inches, take it or leave it. Today’s stationery aisles have a wider variety of options but – could you buy this paper? Or is it one of those things that are only sold to schools?
  • do you see a question in Lori’s work that she didn’t answer?

I really would be interested in having you educate me. Please take a moment and share your thoughts in the comments below.

And Lori, thanks for stumping me. I’ll admit that I spent way too long thinking about “full scap” and composing this post.

If you have an idea for a Sunday morning memory discussion like Lori did, I’d love to hear it. Just reach out and let me know or share it on this Padlet.






8 responses to “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Andrew Forgrave Avatar

    Good morning Doug!

    Yes — when I was in elementary school as a student, we had paper that was referred to as foolscap paper. I don’ t know if I would have used it as early as grade 1, but I seem to remember doing our spelling dictations on sheets of foolscap that our teacher had cut in half vertically. The paper I recall was longer than the usual 8.5×11 letter size paper, was frequently newsprint, and lined. I don’t know if it matched the dimensions of legal 8.5×14 paper — I didn’t know about that kind of paper at that age — but I do recall using it for compositions in Grade 7 and 8. My teacher at the time was from England and definitely referred to the paper as foolscap.

    I don’t remember using foolscap once I got to high school — everyone was selling white, 3-ring binder paper in stacks of 100, 250, or 500 sheets, along with those little paper reinforcements for the eventual moment when the paper edge gave out and you had to re-fasten the torn sheet. I have always perferred duotangs over binders for that very reason,. Far fewer torn pages with duotangs relative to binders.

    Now, I have no recollection of holding the paper up to see if it had a foolscap watermark, but Google seems to be very clear on the origin of the name — the paper originally had a watermark of a fool’s cap. Go figure.

    There are lots of images of different watermarks if you google “foolscap watermark”


  2. adunsiger Avatar

    Oh my gosh! This post takes me back. I remember using foolscap and halfscap in school. (I think that the halfscap was used most often for spelling tests.) Like Andy, I think it was in elementary school. It took some playing with the size of it to get it hole punched and placed in a binder. I remember this issue, as I was terribly disorganized as a child, and I think that this started with foolscap. Since I could never figure out how to hole punch it, I just threw it in a folder or in my desk. The folder problem though was that the paper was always taller than the folder. If you folded it to fit, it didn’t take long to overflow the folder. Then imagine a folder and desk of exploding paper. Some of which came out the middle of those group tables, but that’s another story. 🙂 Maybe this was my start of a love/hate relationship with paper. 🙂 Curious to hear about other people’s foolscap experiences.


    P.S. I think Lori’s printing deserves way more than a C. Could this be the very reason that marking printing has finally gone by the wayside?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lori St. Amand Avatar
      Lori St. Amand

      That video about the water mark is so interesting. My spelling tests were on a smaller lined paper that was shaped like a rectangle. It would not have fit in any binders. I definitely remember that. Now I’m wondering if that paper in the photo was half scap as reading this got me thinking was there an even bigger version. I have a few teachers on my Facebook from my elementary school In the 1980’s. I’m going to ask them if they remember this word! I thought my printing looked pretty good to Aviva! I also might dig through the rest of my box of school memories my mother collected for me. Stay tuned!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. SStewart Avatar

    I feel very confused now! I have never heard of foolscap paper. I only know the longer paper as full scap. I remember folding up the bottom to fit it to the size of my binder or duotang. I think I recall it from my school days (70s), teaching elem. school in the late 80s, and what my children brought home from school in early 2020s. I think I recall half scap for spelling tests too. Or was that for music class? I just did some online searching too. I see references to foolscap, full scap, and full scape!
    I need more coffee… 🙂


    1. Lori St. Amand Avatar
      Lori St. Amand

      Talking to my Grade 5 teacher she said this paper I posted was half of the full size. The line spacing got smaller just like the pencils got thinner. She said the spelling paper Aviva and I remember was half scap had a margin down the side. Spacing also differed depending on the grade. She said they called what I posted project paper when it was in the big form. I can’t see how to post a picture here though.


  4. Ruth Ford Avatar
    Ruth Ford

    This took me back! I grew up in South Africa, and foolscap was the standard size of lined paper, and exercise books prior to the adoption of A4 in many parts of the world. I think it was about 13 inches long, so almost the equivalent of the legal paper size here. It used to come in loose leaf sheets, as well as a folio option. In high school, we used hard cover foolscap notebooks for many subjects. In elementary schools, we had a variety of smaller notebooks as well. You could buy paper printed with a margin or without. The lines were referred to as feint, or Irish (narrow). Not sure where those terms came from.

    I have seen the paper that Lori refers to marketed as story paper.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My Week Ending 2021-03-07 – doug — off the record Avatar

    […] Sunday – Whatever happened to … ? […]


  6. OTR Links 03/08/2021 – doug — off the record Avatar

    […] Whatever happened to … – doug — off the record […]


Please share your thoughts here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: