Uses of carbon paper

What is Carbon Paper

Carbon paper is a type of paper in which one side is covered with a waxy layer of carbon, which is placed between two sheets of paper in order to copy what is written or drawn on one of the sheets.

Due to the rise of digital printing and photocopying machines, the demand for carbon paper has decreased in recent years. However, this type of paper is still used in the world of design and art.

How is carbon paper used?

  1. Situate yourself in a comfortable and stable place to write, preferably flat. Place first the paper that will be the copy of what you will write, and on this one put the carbon paper, bright side down. Then, place the original that will be copied on top of the opaque side of the carbon paper.
  2. Use a pencil or pen to write on the original by pressing firmly to make sure the carbon is printed on the sheet. You can write words, draw a design or even draw an image. If you are drawing an image, simply place the image on top of the paper and trace with your pencil.
  3. To make more than one copy using carbon paper, repeat the steps mentioned above. Next, place the original that will be copied on top of the last piece of carbon paper. The more copies you make, the more strongly you must press to make sure that the carbon is transferred to the lower sheet.
  4. If you want to use a typewriter to make copies, repeat steps 2 through 4. Next, place the three sheets on the typewriter as if they were a sheet, and start typing.

What was Carbon Paper used for?

  • Copy documentsYou can still find carbon paper in use in homes and offices. Some people still use it to copy documents made with typewriters. In this sense, handwritten receipt books use carbon paper to produce copies for buyers and sellers.

    Carbon paper can also be used with check books to record issued checks. Many money order forms also use carbon paper to produce multiple copies.

  • TattoosCarbon paper allows tattoo artists to copy designs from one paper to another and then transfer it to the skin.

    After finishing a design, the tattoo artist places a piece of transfer paper on a flat surface; then a sheet of carbon paper, with the carbon down, and finally place the paper with the design on the back of the carbon sheet.

    The sheets are then placed together in a thermal fax machine, which applies heat and pressure to transfer the original carbon image onto the transfer paper.

    The tattoo artist presses the transfer paper on the skin, and then apply a solution of glycerin soap or stick deodorant on the paper to copy the design on the skin.

    The artist can also transfer the design without a machine by drawing it directly on a sheet of paper that is placed on the carbon paper and the transfer paper together.

  • Art projectsArtists usually use carbon paper to transfer images and designs from paper to another medium. It is commonly used in the manufacture of clothing to transfer patterns to the fabric.

    Some artists have even created their work directly on sheets of carbon paper. For their part, carpenters use it to transfer patterns from paper to wood.

    Carbon paper is also a quick solution to make copies in rudimentary art. The colouring pages can easily be transferred to a blank page by highlighting the original drawing on a piece of carbon paper.


The carbon paper may get dirty, so be sure to take care when using, otherwise, you can end up tainting the job you took hours to copy.

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