Grid paper, often called graph paper, is very common in mathematics classrooms. It is regular loose leaf paper that features a printed square pattern rather than horizontal lines. Grid paper is most often used for graphing, but can also be used in geometry, to teach fractions (Brown, 1979), to demonstrate magnitude or place value (Bassarear, 2011), or to teach multiplication (Hall, 1981), among other uses. Some authors have suggested grid paper may be used to support students with visual-perceptual or graphomotor problems to line up their numbers (Cooper, 1994). However, there has been very little research examining the effectiveness of grid paper for these purposes. This is not to say that grid paper is not effective, rather, there is just no research confirming or denying that it is.
There are some digital grid software tools currently available on the market, but again, these tools have not been evaluated through research. These tools include graph paper applications, equation writers, or suites of tools that can support students in many math skills. Some of these tools are detailed below.
Research Rating: Due to the lack of experimental information cited in this description this information should be interpreted with caution.
Readily accessible and inexpensive
Can support students with visual perceptual or graphomotor challenges (Cooper, 1994)
If using computer-based grid paper or graphing software, students may need extensive training
Use grid paper that has boxes the same size as the individual’s handwriting when using a paper-and-pencil method
Grid paper software may be preferable when the individual has graphomotor deficits.
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Bassarear, T. (2011). Mathematics for elementary school teachers (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Brown, C. N. (1979). Fractions on grid paper. The Arithmetic Teacher, 26, 8-10,
Cooper, R. (1994). Alternative math techniques instructional guide. Bryn Mawr, PA: Center for Alternative Learning.
Hall, W. D. (1981). Using arrays for teaching multiplication. The Arithmetic Teacher, 29, 20-21
Written by Bronwyn Lamond, Last Revision March 2018