Using Yellow as Contrast for Faded Handwriting: Tuesday’s Tip

Using Yellow as Contrast for Faded Handwriting sassy jane genealogy

Using yellow as contrast for faded handwriting is today’s tip. It’s simple but effective. When we encountered faded or difficult-to-read documents in the archives, it could be a challenge to photocopy or even read the text or handwriting.

To increase the contrast on a faint or faded document, place it inside a yellow-tinted sheet protector when photocopying. (If the sheet protector you buy is only open on one end, slit the other side so that you won’t abrade your documents sliding them in and out of the sheet protector. And never, never store documents in this kind of plastic over the long term.)

The same principle works when you’re working at a downward-projecting microfilm reader. I always carry a sheet of yellow legal pad paper with me on trips to the library. Placing it on the image from the reader increases the contrast and not only helps you decipher handwriting, but also doesn’t fatigue your eyes as quickly.

Using yellow as contrast for faded handwriting can be effective – give it a try.

I don’t know about you, but I got almost no research done in December and January’s been busy too, so I’m eager to get back into the genealogical swing. Happy searching to all my readers in 2012.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”


  1. Kathleen Moore 4 January 2011 at 7:19 AM

    What a neat trick! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Nolichucky Roots 4 January 2011 at 9:33 AM

    Can’t wait to try this. Eye strain is a real issue for me so anything that gives me a few more minutes of face time with the documents is heaven sent. Thank you.

  3. Sassy Jane Genealogy 4 January 2011 at 10:53 AM

    You’re welcome! I wish I could say it cures every case of poor handwriting, but it’s pretty effective nevertheless.

  4. Brenda 4 January 2011 at 11:19 AM

    Great idea and inexpensive! I didn’t get a lot of research done in December either. Happy New Year!

  5. Carol Yates Wilkerson 4 January 2011 at 12:09 PM

    My cousin and I just received our GG-Grandfather’s Civil War diary as a scanned PDF file. The scans were great, but grandpa didn’t always have ink, so he had to resort to various methods of using his pen such as berry juice! We had trouble reading some of his entries because they were so light. NOW I know how to see them better. Thank you so much!

Comments are closed.