"This page intentionally left blank" is a common sentence at the start of books/documents. I know it is correct, but why is it not expressed as "This page has been initially left blank"?

Is there a term to describe this phenomenon in English grammar? A useful link for further study will be appreciated. I have already read this relevant Q&A.

  • 1
    The term you want to look up is headlinese. It's an abbreviated grammar often used in headlines, labels, signs, etc.
    – stangdon
    Mar 22, 2018 at 13:39
  • 3
    That said are you sure you mean "initially left blank"? I've seen "intentionally left blank" a lot, but never "initially".
    – stangdon
    Mar 22, 2018 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


First, the comment about headlines is spot on. This locution is a sentence fragment, and as such is not technically grammatical. Sentence fragments, however, are common in contexts where the meaning is being only vaguely indicated. This page intentionally left blank is an abbreviation of This page has intentionally been left blank for reasons that are not going to be mentioned, let alone explained.

Second, your question about initially is very odd. It is not as though the printer is later going to repossess the document or book, remove the legend, and substitute some other text.


Look, I the English language (as in many) often, words are left out, but the MEANING is still very much there... for the native speaker. (For others, I can only apologize.)

So what has been left out, here?

In MY book, first on all, a comma has been left out:

"This page, intentionally left blank..." but then something else would be missing. I believe we call that a non defining clause. It would , then, express a thought, "This page, which was intentionally left blank..."

But it isn't really a non-defining clause, either. And no, it is NOT correct English as it was written, at least it is not a proper sentence for the very reason you express. "no verb!" (of any kind). It's sort of like "No Smoking". It's information that everyone has come to understand though it isn't (technically) correctly expressed.

The sentence (if it, in fact IS one) should read, "This page was intentionally left blank." or even "This page has been left blank intentionally."

We are left to figure out the meaning. We cannot fix the grammar. "Men at work" ; "No Dogs"; "Keep Right".

Many instructional, or information notices lack proper or complete grammar constructional components. Sad but true! Easy come, easy go! Not to worry!

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