Need to leave a note for your parents to remind them to sign your field trip permission form? Want to make a quick list of the stuff you need at the grocery store? Chances are you need some sticky notes!

Sticky notes — also known as Post-it® notes or repositionable notes — are small pieces of paper that feature a light adhesive on the back. The adhesive allows the notes to be attached to a wide variety of documents and surfaces — and removed and reattached multiple times.

Post-it® notes started out as three-inch squares that were canary yellow in color. Today, sticky notes can be found in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors.

People all around the world use sticky notes every day. In school, at work, and at home — everywhere you go, people have and use sticky notes all the time. Would you believe that they’re a wonderful invention that happened totally by accident? It’s true!

No one set out to invent sticky notes. Instead, in 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a chemist at 3M Company, invented a unique, low-tack adhesive that would stick to things but also could be repositioned multiple times.  He was trying to invent a super-strong adhesive, but he came up with a super-weak one instead.

At the time, it was a solution without a problem! Dr. Silver had a new invention, but he didn’t know what to do with it. For the next five years, he promoted his new invention within 3M, but no one could think of a way to use it.

In 1974, Art Fry, a colleague of Dr. Silver’s at 3M, was singing in his church choir. He became frustrated when the bookmarks he used to mark his place in his hymnal kept falling out.

He remembered Dr. Silver’s adhesive and tried some on his bookmarks. It worked wonderfully! The bookmarks stayed in place, but he could move and reattach them easily without harming any of the pages. The rest, as they say, is history…

Art Fry came up with the idea of using Dr. Silver’s adhesive on small notes. 3M launched the product under the name “Press ‘n Peel” in 1977 in four cities. Unfortunately, it was not an immediate success.

After a successful product test in Boise, Idaho, 3M released the renamed Post-it® Notes nationwide in 1980. They soon became one of the most popular office products in the world. And that original canary yellow color? That was an accident, too! The 3M team that first developed the product used leftover canary-yellow scrap paper from a nearby laboratory.

130 Join the Discussion

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    • Thanks for suggesting a Wonder about black holes, Rahul! We think that’s a GREAT idea for a future Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • That’s an awesome guess, Tim! We’ll all have to check back tomorrow to see if you were correct…THANK YOU for visiting today’s Wonder of the Day®!:-)

  1. The video was amazing, I mean how could pull that off? I also wonder when they are going to do another experiment. I hope they come out with tons more!

    • We’re so glad you liked the video for today’s Wonder, Cole! Those guys perform the BEST, most FUN experiments! We’re glad they made such awesome videos to highlight them! :-)

  2. That was a WONDERful video. We loved seeing what they did with sticky notes. Many of us now want sticky notes for our birthday, so we can make our own creations. The class also wants Mrs. Phillips to buy thousands of sticky notes so we can make creations during inside recess.

    • That sounds like SO MUCH fun, Mrs. Phillips’ WONDERful Class! You guys will have to keep us updated on your sticky note creations…we’d LOVE to see them! Thanks so much for visiting this Wonder and for WONDERing even more about what YOU can do with sticky notes! :-)

    • What a super nice thing to say, Morgan! We’re so happy when we get feedback from our Wonder Friends about the Wonders of the Day. Thank you for letting us know you enjoy visiting Wonderopolis and learning new things! :-)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Hi there! We thought this wonder was very interesting. We learned so much! We use sticky notes all the time in school. We keep track of our thinking when we are reading and of course, we use them as bookmarks too!

    Mrs. Johnson’s third grade

    • Those are both WONDERful ways to use sticky notes, Mrs. Johnson’s Third Grade! Thanks so much for checking out today’s Wonder together and for letting us know you thought it was interesting…you guys are GREAT Wonder Friends! :-)

  4. Make one about speed like g’s or mph or light speed or time travel something about speed or time! Please, thank you for your time and have a nice day!

    • Hello, Isaiah! Thanks for giving us some AWESOME ideas for future Wonders of the Day! Keep your eyes out for upcoming Wonders…we think you might REALLY like a few we have coming up! :-)

  5. We loved this Wonder! We can’t believe that over 280,000 sticky notes were used in this video. ;) It was a rainbow of colors! We made sticky note hidden pictures in our Wonderopolis Journals today:)

    • You guys are so SUPER for letting us know you liked today’s Wonder and video about sticky notes, Mrs. Fisher’s Kindergarten Kids! We LOVED watching how inventive and creative the people in the video were with their sticky note extravaganza! :-)

  6. I like sticky notes because you can stick them anywhere. Whoever thought of sticky notes was a great idea, you guys make the best wonders ever!!!!!!

    • We think your enthusiasm for Wonder is AMAZING, Geno! Way to go! Thank you for visiting today’s Wonder of the Day® and for letting us know why you like sticky notes! :-)

    • Well, let us thank YOU for being such an awesome Wonder Friend and exploring today’s Wonder about sticky notes, Zoey! We’re sure glad you learned something new about them! :-)

      • I thought the video was cool, but it was wasteful and not good for the environment. Paper comes from trees and we need trees to live and think about all the animals… take a moment and think about my comment.

        • Absolutely, Katherine. Thank you for your comment! Hopefully, our friends from the video reused all of those Post-it notes. Thanks for WONDERing with us! :-)

  7. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Hello to the wonderers of the universe! Today’s WONDER left me in quite a sticky situation, hehehe. It was pretty cool. I learned how sticky notes were made by accident and that a guy named after metal made them! Also, can you do a wonder of the day about wonders of the day. That would be WONDER-ful! Also you guys make such great wonders.
    -YuGiOhNinja

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,
    This was a cool wonder! I did not know Dr. Spencer Silver invented post-it notes. Also, I did not know that post-it notes were made in 1980. I still wonder how many people use post-it notes? I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about dessert.
    Thank for the wonder
    Alisha

    • We’re so glad you learned some cool new facts about sticky notes by exploring today’s Wonder, Alisha! We don’t know how many people use sticky notes, but we know it is a LOT! Thanks so much for your comment today! :-)

  9. We try to follow Wonderopolis on a daily basis as part of our learning. It is great to explore something new everyday and make predictions about what will follow. It’s amazing that we can learn so much about sticky notes! We think that tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will be about
    why we make cakes for special occasions. Thanks for all the great topics in Wonderopolis!

    • Thanks so much for letting us know you enjoy visiting Wonderopolis and learning new things together, Mrs. Bork’s Grade 5 Class! We are PROUD to call you Wonder Friends! Have a WONDERful rest of the day! :-)

    • Hello, Paige! We hope you had a very WONDERful Thursday! We can’t wait to visit tomorrow’s Wonder! Thanks for taking a guess at what you think it will be about! :-)

    • There are a few Wonder Friends who have guessed along the same lines as you, Rayden! We’re getting so excited to see what tomorrow’s Wonder will be about! It’s always fun to wake up and head to Wonderopolis to explore a new, fun Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • Hi, Eric! The Wonder Friends who think the next Wonder of the Day® is about cake are using the clue in the “Wonder what’s next?” section of this Wonder! It says, “We hope you like dessert, because tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day really takes the cake!” :-)

    • We think the next Wonder will be SWEET, for sure, Rebecca! Thanks for letting us know what you think it will be about! :-)

    • We thought the video was a bunch of fun to watch, too, Mirvad! We WONDER how long it took the people in the video to perfect their sticky note production? Thanks for leaving us a great comment today! :-)

    • We agree…they ARE awesome, Steve! You can find out how sticky notes were invented and by whom by exploring this Wonder of the Day®! We’re happy that you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • It is an AMAZING video, we agree with you, Ethan! We have been wanting to try some of those sticky note tricks…the people in the video are super talented! :-)

    • WOW, Issac! A Wonder of the Day® about rubber bands is a GREAT idea! Thank you for suggesting it AND for visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

  10. Omg! That video is so WONDERful! I want some sticky notes for my b-day and Christmas!!! That must’ve taken forever to make!!!

    • Hello, Abby! We think it’s really awesome that you want some sticky notes now to build your own creations! The video for this Wonder has inspired so many Wonder Friends like you to give it a try! Be sure to let us know about the WONDERful things you make with your sticky notes when you get them! :-)

  11. WOW!!!! OMG, that was an awesome wonder of the day!! I did not know that Dr. Spencer Silver invented sticky notes!! And OMG, that video is off the hook.

    • The video was really cool, we agree, Hannah! We have been practicing with our own batch of sticky notes since we watched it for the first time (we keep watching it because it’s AWESOME)! The people in the video inspired us to try some sticky note tricks! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing more about the invention of sticky notes, Kalea! We appreciate your WONDERful addition to this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • We think so too, Avery! The people in the video ROCK for trying such cool sticky note tricks, and we think YOU ROCK for visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Hello, Avery! We have tried the trick where the sticky notes “walk” down the stairs like a slinky! It was really fun! We’re going to keep trying to learn new sticky note tricks in our spare time! :-)

    • That’s OK, Avery! We think it’s cool that you left us a comment to let us know! Here’s another smiley face for you, too! >>> :-)

  12. I think that was a good idea to invent that because I love sticky notes. They are so fun to play with and mess with. You can use these sticky notes a lot to write down things and instead of using a long peace of paper then. That’s why they invented sticky notes. Thanks to whoever invented them. I love them.

  13. I LOVED the video. Do you know were the video
    took place? I showed it to my brother, he LOVED
    it! How many comments do you get a day?

    • Hello, Audrey! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing Wonderopolis with your brother! We think it’s GREAT that you guys are learning together by exploring Wonders at home! We’re not sure where the video was made, but it is SO COOL! We wish we could make sticky notes do all those AMAZING things! Maybe if we practice enough, we will be able to!

      To answer your question, we usually get about 20-50 comments a day here in Wonderopolis. We have Wonder Friends all over the world who leave us awesome comments on many different Wonders each day! It’s so great to hear from them! :-)

  14. Hey there, wonderopolis. I just got some sticky notes but they aren’t exactly the right kind… but beggars can’t be choosers!
    P.S. I have a WONDERful idea for a wonder! Why is wonderopolis so AWESOME! :-)
    Wonderopolis is like my favorite website EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I were in the wonderopolis crew I would freak-out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

    • Guess what, Abby? You ARE part of the Wonderopolis crew…all of our AWESOME Wonder Friends are! You guys help make Wonderopolis so amazing by visiting the Wonders of the Day, leaving us great comments to let us know what you liked and didn’t like about each Wonder, and also telling us all the cool things you learned during your visits! YOU GUYS are ALL part of the Wonderopolis Crew and we appreciate you very much! :-)

  15. I love the wonder today and the video. I learned when they were invented and who invented them. I LOVED THE WONDER TODAY, WONDEROPOLIS!!!!!!!!!

    • We’re SO GLAD you loved this Wonder, Nolan! Thank you for letting us know the cool stuff you learned by exploring it! :-)

  16. I love today’s wonder. If I were in a crew like this, I would totally freak out. I would walk on Niagra Falls so really bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks for letting us know what you thought about this WONDERful Wonder of the Day®, Crazy Gurl! We’re glad you left us a comment about it! :-)

    • You’re welcome, Freya! Thank YOU for hanging out in Wonderopolis today! It’s true…sticky notes ARE super useful! We WONDER what we would do without them? :-)

    • Sure you can do it, Gavin! It will take some sticky notes and a lot of practice, though! We have been learning how to do some of the tricks, too! :-)

    • We think three minutes is a WONDERful run time for a sticky note trick, David! Way to go for giving it a try…we’re proud of you! :-)

    • You can do it, David! It just takes practice and patience…we bet the people in the video practiced a LOT before they mastered those sticky note tricks! We think you should keep trying your best! :-)

  17. That video was so cool! We are doing rube goldberg machines in class, and I was thinking of using stickey notes and used them like slinky’s! I hope the next wonder is about how people do yarn bombing!

    Thanks!

    • We think your comment ROCKS, Emma! Thanks so much for suggesting a future Wonder about yarn bombing! We didn’t even know what that was, so we WONDERed more about it and learned something new! Some of those yarn creations are AMAZING! :-)

  18. I live and breathe sticky notes! Thank God that they invented them! I’m happy they come in all kinds of colors!!!!!

  19. I LOVE THE VIDEO. WE GOT STICKY NOTES A LONG TIME AGO. I always messed up. I LOVE you, WONDEROPOLIS.

    HAVE WONDER NIGHT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HAVE A HAPPY THURSDAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We hope you have a WONDERful night, too, Kelly! Thanks for letting us know that you enjoyed the video for this Wonder and that you have some sticky notes to practice tricks with! :-)

  20. Hi, Wonderopolis! It was very interesting to here that a sticky note was developed by mistake. The more interesting fact is that Art Fry used this failure for a new invention. Before I read this article, I knew that someone made it by mistake and it first came out with a yellow color and a square shape. However I didn’t know that a super-weak adhesive was a trash before Art Fry found where or how to use. I am wondering how the sticky note was successful by just changing a name Post-it Notes. Does renaming help success? Why?

    • Hi, Hannah! Thanks so much for exploring this Wonder and letting us know some more WONDERs you have about it! Sometimes changing a name to something more catchy or one that is more appealing to a broader group of people is just what a product needs to help it take off. But, sometimes changing the name of a product can do more harm than good, especially when manufacturers try to change a much-loved brand name! :-)

    • Sticky notes are a FUN and extremely useful invention aren’t they, Zoe? We appreciate your comment…THANKS SO MUCH for sharing it with us today! :-)

    • We’re glad you thought the video for this Wonder was funny, Molly! We though so, too! Thank you for stopping by Wonderopolis today and leaving us this GREAT comment! :-)

  21. Taylor-was wondering who invented sticky notes

    Molly -I wonder how you figure out all that stuff

    Taylor- was thinking what was the first wonder

    Molly-I wonder how you get all those iPads

    Taylor-was wondering who made wonderopolis

    Molly-was wondering how you find all those videos

    Taylor was thinking who was the fist comment on wonderopolis

    Molly-I wonder how many sticky notes are in the world

    Taylor-was wondering what was the first Color of sticky notes

    Molly-I wonder how you wake up that early in the morning and wrote the wonder

    Taylor was wondering what was the fist stick notes

    Bye wonderoplis

    • WOW, Taylor and Molly! Those are some AMAZING Wonders! We can’t answer all of them (we both need to do a bit more WONDERing about the sticky note questions), but we’ll try to answer some of the ones that focus on Wonderopolis!

      The very first Wonder of the Day® (we call that one “the Wonder that started it all!”) was Wonder #1 – Why Are Flamingos Pink? Here is a link that will take you right to it: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/pink-flamingos/.

      The very first comment ever on Wonderopolis was written by a Wonder Friend named Carol. You can read it when you visit Wonder of the Day® #1 (it’s the very first comment in the comment section).

      We search high and low for the best videos to accompany our Wonders! Sometimes we find the best videos on YouTube, but sometimes they might be found on Vimeo or another video library website.

      Did you know that you can tell us what you’re WONDERing about anytime you like? Just click on the “nominate” link at the top of every page in Wonderopolis and fill in the boxes to share your ideas for future Wonders of the Day! It’s fun and easy to do! That’s how we get ideas for LOTS of our Wonders of the Day!

      Thanks for being AWESOME Wonder Friends! You guys ROCK! :-)

    • Hey there, Bob! We’re glad that our sticky note Wonder got you thinking– it must have taken a long time to plan out the sticky note extravaganza! We are always looking for suggestions and nominations for new Wonders, so thanks for sharing yours, Bob! :)

    • We bet it will take a LOT of Wonder Friends to create a cool sticky notes performance, Mr Muffin! We hope you and your friends have a fun time preparing– but make sure you check with your teacher before you try it out! :)

    • Hey there, Alba! We’re glad you learned something new with us today– we use sticky notes so much that we are glad to know who invented them! HOORAY! :)

  22. The video was awesome! We can’t wait until tomorrow’s wonder. We wonder who invented the slinky? That would be a cool wonder! Have a great day!
    Mrs. Keith’s Class

    • HOORAY, that’s awesome news, Lucy! Thanks for telling us about your school invention test- we bet you did great! Have a WONDERful day, we look forward to seeing you soon! :)

  23. Hi wonderopolis,
    I think this is my favorite wonder ever!!!
    I wonder how they thought of doing that!!!
    What is your favorite wonder??

  24. Connection: Our class uses post-it notes every time we’re on wonderopolis!

    Question: What makes up the adhesive?

    Reaction: Our class didn’t know that post-it’s were an accident. We thought it was interesting that he was trying to make a strong glue. Thank you Dr. Silver!!! :)

    • Hello, Miss Witzel’s 3rd Grade Class! We are so glad that you are exploring this Wonder today! We like your connection, question, and reaction to the Wonder! We think that the actual formula for the adhesive is top-secret, so that others can’t create their own post-its. The folks that make the post-its would lose money if they made the formula available to the public. But, we could try to make our own! Great WONDERing, Wonder Friends! :-)

  25. That’s awesome i didn’t know they where an accident! it is so cool to know how sticky notes where made.

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who invented sticky notes?
  • Were sticky notes a planned invention?
  • Can you make art with sticky notes?

Wonder Gallery

sticky-notes-and-pen_shutterstock_73169194dreamstime_xl_21748396 customdreamstime_xl_24370539 customVimeo Video

Try It Out

Sticky notes are obviously good for helping you write notes for remembering things. But do they have other uses? You bet they do! Write yourself a note to remember to recruit a friend or family member to help you check out one or more of the following activities:

  • Can you tell a story with a series of pictures? Using a pad of sticky notes and a set of crayons, markers or colored pencils, create a series of drawings that tells a simple story. You can come up with an original story of your own, or you can retell a story you’re familiar with, such as The Three Little Pigs. You could even tell a story based upon a simple idea, like “what happened to me at school today.” Have fun telling a story in pictures using sticky notes!
  • Ready to try your hand at some awesome sticky note moving art? Watch the videos below to learn how to make some super-cool sticky note moving artworks:
  • How creative and inventive can you be? Listed below are a few ideas for products that might have been invented accidentally with no particular purpose in mind. Can you think of a new invention that could make use of such otherwise-useless products? Be creative! You never know when your imagination might be sparked to create a new invention of your own!
    • an odorless variety of rose
    • an ice pack that heats up quickly
    • a new type of rubber that doesn’t grip very well

Still Wondering

Similar to Dr. Silver’s experience, find out what happens when you get surprising results conducting the experiment described in Science NetLinks’ A Taste of Exploratoria lesson.

 

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder Categories/Tags

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is all about the ebonies and the ivories!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.