Office supplies

Carbon Paper

About Carbon Paper

A few decades ago, carbon paper used to be the only affordable option you had if you wanted to make copies of documents. Although modern technology has replaced much of the need for them, there are some areas where they are still needed.

Carbon or the carbonic paper is the oldest method for copying documents, long before the existence of digital printers and copiers. It is basically the first-ever electronic free method for copying. And back in the day, when sophisticated electronic devices were inaccessible to the majority of people, they relied solely on carbon sheets for copying manuscripts and drawings. Even today, if you want to copy something without using computers, you will need carbon paper. So, before you start shopping for such papers, read this article to know more about them. It will help you make the right choices when you are making the purchase.

Everything you need to know about carbon paper

Original carbon papers had a layer of carbon on one side. On the other side was a clean white paper. Although this did the job, they were not good enough for getting copies of detailed pictures or complex drawings. That led to the invention of better technologies like graphite papers and carbonless papers. Even after so many decades, the carbon sheet remains the cheapest of all. In order to select the right type of them for the right tasks, first, you need to know what each of them is capable of. Read on to find out more about different types of these papers.

Working on carbon papers

The working of carbon paper is quite simple. One side is coated with loose carbon, and the other side is clean. To use this paper, you have to place it between the sheet you are writing on and the sheet that you want the copy to be on. The pressure that you put on the paper as you write will cause the loose carbon on the carbon sheet to stick to the sheet underneath it. But you have to be careful because strokes that you make without the nib of the pen happen to leave their mark. So, if you are not careful, you will mess up your copy.

Carbonless paper

These days carbonless paper has taken over the role of carbon sheets. Carbonless papers have so many advantages over conventional carbon ones. Similar to carbonic ones, carbonless papers also rely on the pressure of your writing. However, instead of relying on the coating of loose carbon, carbonless papers use a much more sophisticated method of using a chemical reaction. Carbonless papers are these days used in printers to print multiple copies of the same document at the same time or to copy receipts that are handwritten.

Types of carbonless paper

Relative to the older carbon papers, carbonless papers are much more cost-effective and reliable. Using a special chemical reaction produces cleaner copies and leaves less smudge on the paper that you are copying. Instead of a loose coating of carbon, the carbonless paper uses a chemical reaction between two compounds to create the impression. These two compounds lie between the top and second layers of the paper. When you put pressure on it, the tiny capsules that hold them burst and cause them to mix. The chemicals together produce a dark trace that resembles the stroke that you make on the paper.

Graphite paper

Both carbon paper and graphite paperwork are similar. The major difference is that graphite paper uses graphite instead of carbon. So, what is the benefit of replacing carbon with graphite? Well, graphite paper produces a much cleaner impression than its carbon counterpart. It is greaseless and does not leave behind any residue. And if you accidentally make a stroke and want to erase it, you can do so. Graphite papers also come in different colours. All of these qualities make graphite paper the apt choice for copying artwork and technical drawings.

Tips on how to buy Copying Paper

Selecting a carbon paper or carbonless paper does not seem like a difficult job at first. However, in reality, there are a lot of things that determine how effective each one of them is in a particular situation. To get the best results, it is essential to use a paper that fits the purpose. And it is easy if you know what and all things to consider before you buy a copying paper. There are more than a couple of things that you should consider in that case. Here are a few tips that you can follow to make sure that you are getting the right copying paper.

  • Choose the type of paper – Although copying paper, carbonless paper, and graphite paper are different, sometimes people refer to all of them as copying paper. So, you have to make a decision regarding which one you need. Old type copying paper works well for matrix printers and for copying documents by hand. Carbonless papers work in laser printers. If you want a copy of your artwork as you draw, you need to use graphite paper.
  • Colour – Both carbonless papers and graphite papers come in different colours. So, if you are looking to create a copy in colours other than black, you can do so using either of these. Therefore, pick a colour according to your need. In both cases, you have to stick to monochrome copies because there is no way to create copies of multiple colours using these papers.
  • Size of the copy paper – Copy papers come in a variety of sizes, just like regular papers. The most common size for these papers is 8.5 by 11 inches. This size is also called letter size. For legal documents, you will need one that is a bit longer than this. Legal documents have a length of fourteen inches. For copying ledgers, you will need copy papers of the size 11 by 17 inches.
  • Contrast level – All copy papers have a rating that corresponds to their contrast level. But keep in mind that the contrast doesn’t have anything to do with the whiteness of the paper that you are copying on. Rather it represents how dark is the markings made by the copy paper. In the case of old copying papers, those with high contrast levels also tend to smudge easily. However, using modern technology, it is possible to create papers that offer higher contrast that is also a lot cleaner.

Another thing to consider when you are selecting a copying paper is the durability of the impression that it makes. Poor quality papers make impressions that do not last very long. In some cases, the carbon copy will smudge even if you happen to put your hands on the prints after several hours. Also, if you need other stationery items as well, apart from carbon paper, you can always find them on Use our product search engine to find all the things that you need without any difficulty. There are other office supplies here on Some brands you will find here include Pelikan, Selizo, Strathmore, and King’s.

Question & Answer

Is copying paper toxic?

The major problem with older type carbon papers is that the carbon might come off easily. This carbon can get into the air and enter inside your lungs if the room is not ventilated. However, in order for this to reach the level of toxicity, you need to be using an incredible number of carbon copies in a room without ventilation. This is a quite unlikely situation, especially these days. Therefore, it is extremely rare for carbon papers to cause toxicity. That being said, you have to be a bit careful when you are handling them. If a lot of carbon gets on your skin, it can lead to itching and irritation.

Will carbon paper transfer to fabric?

Yes, you can use carbon papers and graphite papers for marking on fabric. People use this method all the time for drawing designs over a piece of fabric before carrying out the embroidery work. However, this pattern won’t be permanent. It will come off easily if you wash it with water and soap. Also, to get clean and sharp traces without any smudges, you should use graphite transfer paper instead of regular carbon paper or even carbonless paper. You can choose light or dark graphite paper depending on how dark you want the marking to be on the fabric.

Are carbon papers still useful today?

It is a fact that carbon papers have lost a lot of relevance after the coming of digital scanners and printers. Now it is possible to produce dozens of copies of a document within a few minutes with a click of a few buttons. Carbon papers are manufactured in much fewer quantities than they used to be a couple of decades ago. But there are still some areas where carbon papers are necessary. For those who cannot carry around a computer with them, carbon papers are still useful for making copies of documents. You will also find them in some printers to get multiple copies at the same time.