Post-it note

Post-It note

A small pad of original style lined yellow Post-It brand notes
Product type Stationery, paper
Owner 3M
Country Cynthiana, Kentucky, U.S.
Introduced 1977 (1977)

A Post-It note (or sticky note) is a small piece of paper with a re-adherable strip of glue on its back, made for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces. A unique low-tack pressure-sensitive adhesive allows the notes to be easily attached, removed and even re-posted elsewhere without leaving residue. Originally small yellow squares, Post-It Notes and related products are now available in an array of colors, shapes and sizes.

Although 3M's patent ran out in 1997, "Post-It" and the original notes' distinctive yellow color remain registered company trademarks, with terms such as "repositionable notes" used for similar offerings manufactured by competitors. Despite this, the name has become genericized for all such products in many countries.


Arthur Fry with a Post-It Note on forehead
Adhesive side of a post-it note, magnified 555x on an SEM

In 1968, a scientist at 3M in the United States, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead he accidentally created a "low-tack", reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive.[1][2][3] For five years, Silver promoted his "solution without a problem" within 3M both informally and through seminars but failed to gain acceptance. In 1974 a colleague who had attended one of his seminars, Art Fry, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook.[4][5] Fry then utilized 3M's officially sanctioned "permitted bootlegging" policy to develop the idea.[5] The original notes' yellow color was chosen by accident, as the lab next-door to the Post-It team had only yellow scrap paper to use.[6]

3M launched the product as "Press 'n Peel" in stores in four cities in 1977, but results were disappointing.[7][8] A year later 3M instead issued free samples directly to consumers in Boise, Idaho, with 94 percent of those who tried them indicating they would buy the product.[7] The product was sold as "Post-Its" in 1979 when the rollout introduction began,[9] and was sold across the United States [9] from April 6, 1980.[10] The following year they were launched in Canada and Europe.[11]

In 2003, the company came out with "Post-It Brand Super Sticky Notes", with a stronger glue that adheres better to vertical and non-smooth surfaces.[12]

Until 3M's patent expired in the 1990s, Post-It type notes were produced only in the company's plant in Cynthiana, Kentucky.

In art

Post-It Notes used to make a mosaic

"The Yellow Stickee Diary of a Mad Secretary", by Rosa Maria Arenas, is the mini graphic journal of an office worker/artist, exhibited July 7 - August 25, 2013, at the Michigan Institute of Contemporary Art (MICA) Gallery in Lansing, Michigan. The 41 drawings displayed are a tiny percentage of the more than 2000 original drawings that constitute the Yellow Stickee Diary Project which Arenas created while working temp jobs from 1994 to 2005. Printed with archival inks on archival paper, the reproductions include "stickee sized" (3" × 5") framed prints and enlargements of the original drawings (which were all done on Post-It Notes).[13]

In 2012, Turkish artist Ardan Özmenoğlu was selected to have a solo exhibition at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery in the art district of Chelsea, Manhattan. The exhibition, titled "E Pluribus Unum" (Latin for "Out of many, one"), opened November 15, 2012 and featured large scale works on Post-It Notes.[14]

In 2004, Paola Antonelli, a curator of architecture and design, included Post-It notes in a show entitled "Humble Masterpieces".

Rebecca Murtaugh, a California artist who uses Post-It notes in her artwork, in 2001 created an installation by covering her whole bedroom with $1000 worth of the notes, using the ordinary yellow for objects she saw as having less value and neon colors for more important objects, such as the bed.[12]

In 2000, the 20th anniversary of Post-It notes was celebrated by having artists create artworks on the notes. One such work, by the artist R. B. Kitaj, sold for £640 in an auction, making it the most valuable Post-It note on record.[15][15][16]

The Lennon Wall, a message board created during the 2014 Hong Kong protests from a stretch of curved staircase in the Central Government Complex, is covered in multi-coloured Post-It notes with handwritten messages from supporters.[17]

In technology

Virtual Post-It notes have been created for computer in the form of desktop notes. These include 3M's own "Post-It Brand Software Notes", "Stickies" in Mac OS, "Sticky Notes" in Windows,[18] or other for-fee applications like ShixxNOTE.[19] Virtual Post-It–like notes are also available online using Evernote or Google Keep.


  1. "Post-It® Brand".
  2. Donnelly, Tim (23 August 2012). "9 Brilliant Inventions Made by Mistake". Inc. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  3. "About Post-It® Brand". Retrieved 2013-02-12. The Post-It® Note was invented as a solution without a problem: Dr. Spencer Silver developed a special, repositionable adhesive, but the 3M scientist didn't know what to do with his discovery.
  4. "Inventor of the Week: Art Fry and Spencer Silver". MIT. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  5. 1 2 Petroski, Henry (1992). The Evolution of Useful Things. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 84–86. ISBN 0-679-41226-3. OCLC 24906856.
  6. "Why Are Post-It Notes Yellow?". Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  7. 1 2 Art Fry and Spencer Silver. "First Person: 'We invented the Post-It Note'". FT Magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
  8. "TV News Headlines - Yahoo TV". Yahoo TV.
  9. 1 2 "Right on the $800,000 Question, They Lost Anyway". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  10. "Spencer Silver". Retrieved 2010-12-24.
  11. "The Evolution of the Post-it Note". 3M. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  12. 1 2 Green, Penelope (2007-07-03). "The all-purpose note that stuck". International Herald Tribune.
  13. "MICA Gallery".
  14. "Ardan Ozmenoğlu "E PLURIBUS UNUM": Nov 15 – Dec 15". Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  15. 1 2 "Post-it Note raises £640". BBC News. 2000-12-27. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
  16. "Post-it artists".
  18. "Windows 7 Features 'Sticky Notes'". Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  19. "ShixxNOTE network enabled sticky notes program". Retrieved 2012-02-23.
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