What is Carbonless?

Carbonless paper is essentially the same as regular paper, but with an important, defining modification. A sheet of carbonless paper is half carbon-copying mechanism, half carbon-rich paper. It is only different from standard paper when placed beneath a sheet of carbon-rich paper.

To produce the carbon paper, a common industry practice is to heat hydrocarbons to a temperature such that they decompose partially. The carbon residue that remains is called “carbon black.” Normal paper is then rolled around a rod laden with carbon black so that only one side of the paper becomes covered in it.

Neither the carbon-rich paper nor the carbonless paper is especially useful on its own. They are both regular pieces of paper alone. When combined, carbon copying is possible.

How Does Carbonless NCR Paper Work?

To work, the carbonless paper must be situated directly beneath a piece of carbon-laden paper, which is why they are edge glued to keep them in position. It is important to position the two pieces directly on top of each other so the carbon copy is an exact replica of the original.

When the top of the papers is pressed on by the pen, minuscule chambers containing carbon black burst onto the paper below, leaving an impression of transferred ink. If compared side-by-side, the two copies generally look the same. However, one can recognize a carbon copy by its faded-gray ink color, compared to the black ink on the original sheet. Carbonless paper does not work both directions. Transfer occurs from the top sheet (normally white) to the 2nd and 3rd (etc.) sheets, but if you turn the set around it does not transfer from the pink, or yellow to the white.

Carbonless paper is a great use for invoices, sales receipts, sales orders, purchase orders, just about any form where you would want to give your customer a copy and keep a copy for yourself.

What are standard carbonless or NCR paper colors?

Standard 2-part or duplicate carbonless paper is white on the top and yellow (canary) on the bottom.

Standard 3-part or triplicate carbonless paper is white on the top, yellow (canary) in the middle (part 2) and pink on the bottom (part 3).

Standard 4-part carbonless is white on the top, yellow (canary) as part 2, pink as part 3 and goldenrod as part 4.