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What is a Pink Slip?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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A pink slip is a term that is used to identify different types of official documents that are considered permanent matters of record. The most common type of pink slip today has to do with documents that provide proof of ownership, such as a car title. The term can also refer to a record of a disciplinary action on the part of a school or the severance of employment with a company.

One of the most common documents identified as pink slips today relate to with a vehicle title. As part of the process of selling a car, it is necessary to clearly establish the ownership. This is accomplished by including in the notice of car sale a pink colored document that establishes the terms and conditions of the transfer of title to a new owner and the recognition that the sale has been recorded with local authorities. In the United States, it is not unusual for the title of a vehicle to be referred to as a pink slip since many jurisdictions continue to use pink paper to provide the new owner with a copy of the proof of ownership.

This term is also used for in relation to permanent education records kept at schools and universities. In this setting, it is a document that is used to record any type of disciplinary action that the institution takes against the student. It defines the nature of the offense as well as noting any corrective measures that were taken. In most jurisdictions, the slip is a permanent part of the educational record and is never removed from the student’s files.

In years past, the pink slip was a dreaded document that was used to notify employees that their period of employment was terminated. This practice was especially common in the days when most employers made use of a pay envelope to provide salary and wages to their employees. Along with the correct amount of earnings for the pay period, the personnel or accounting department would include a pink paper that notified the employee that his or her services were no longer needed. At times, the document did not indicate a permanent dismissal, and some companies used it to notify employees of temporary layoffs.

While the setting determines the significance of the pink slip, the document serves as tangible evidence of some action taken. Whether to provide a title to a vehicle, record a disciplinary action, or to alter the current status of employment, it always indicates some type of event that has some significance.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

By anon969966 — On Sep 14, 2014

Pink is a really nice color, so how bad can it be?

By AthenaP — On Aug 27, 2013

We got these in school whenever we did something they deemed 'unacceptable' and 'bad'.

By aaaCookie — On Jan 15, 2011

@sapphire12, we had then in my college for some bad things too, though also for just general things. Any time you changed your schedule, you had to get someone to sign a pink slip. You also got them for dormitory assignments and several other official things. While not negative things, they still all had that serious edge to them.

By sapphire12 — On Jan 13, 2011

I have only ever heard of pink slips as being bad things. In high school, pink slips were given to students who were late for school, or who were given detention, or even who had overdue library books.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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