3 Types of Receipt Paper: What You Need to Know

3 Types of Receipt Paper: What You Need to Know

Posted by United Paper on 20th Jan 2021

Despite the increasingly digitized world we live in, where many transactions occur online, paper receipts are still vital to businesses. From the small gift shop around the corner to the large shopping mall in the center of the city, customers are likely to receive a receipt for any purchase they make in a physical store.

The reasons are simple. First, you are more likely to catch errors in transactions when you issue a receipt. For instance, a double charge can easily be spotted and rectified. Aside from catching mistakes, paper receipts are critical when you are filing your taxes or undergoing an audit. From the customer perspective, a receipt allows them to return goods and prove that they made the purchase from a particular store.

Just like any stationery, receipts can be of high or low quality. And a big part of the equation is in the receipt paper that the business uses. There's more to choosing a receipt paper than you think. While it may seem like all receipt papers are the same, there's a world of difference between various types. Let's walk through some of the common types and how you can choose the best one for your business.

Thermal Paper

Also known as audit rolls, thermal paper is one of the most popular types of receipt paper on the market. Thermal paper is a special fine paper that is perfect for thermal printers, cash registers, and credit card terminals. It is different from the traditional bond paper in that it is coated with dye and chemicals.

Its chemical composition makes it susceptible to change when it is exposed to heat. The chemicals come in four general types: leuco dyes, developers, sensitizers, and stabilizers. With this kind of paper, you don’t have to use expensive ink or cartridges to get printing done. This type usually has a brighter sheen than bond papers.

Many thermal papers feature a protective coating that ensures that the thermal image doesn't fade easily. Because thermal papers are often exposed to UV lights, water, oils, grease, and so on, the coating is beneficial. The coating also reduces print head wear, making it more durable.

Because thermal rolls have a coating, it is easy to identify them. The easiest way to identify them is to scratch the surface with your fingernail. The heat generated while you are scratching causes black marks on the surface. Alternatively, you can have a feel of the paper. Thermal papers generally have a smoother and shinier feel. The most foolproof way, however, is to use a thermal printer to test. Carbonless rolls and wood-free papers will not produce marks when you use a thermal printer.

Wood-free Paper

If you’ve been looking through paper catalogs, you’ll have come across wood-free papers. The term wood-free is confusing because the paper is known to be derived from trees. “Wood-free” doesn’t mean that the paper does not originate from trees. In fact, the paper is derived from wood just like others. The difference is that it contains a substance known as lignin that is removed from the pulp using a chemical process.

Although lignin, in its natural state, makes trees robust and resilient, it gradually weakens paper and causes it to turn yellow. Before long, the paper looks old and worn (think antique books and old, yellowing newspapers).

If you want receipt paper that is durable, wood-free paper - also known as bond paper - is your best bet. You can easily preserve important information for years without worrying about the paper fading or wearing out. This type of receipt paper is likely to be the best choice for businesses that sell products designed to have a long lifespan.

Wood-free paper is typically used with traditional printers that use cartridges and inks. However, it can also be used with thermal printers that use ribbons. You’ll find wood-free paper available as A4 sheets and in much smaller sizes for receipts.

Carbonless Paper

Carbonless copy paper or No Carbon Required (NCR), just as the name suggests, has removed the need for carbon paper between sheets when producing multiple copies of the same document.

Before carbonless paper, carbon paper was necessary to produce several copies of one receipt. The user would insert a carbon paper between two sheets of regular paper - a process known as “carbon interleaving”. The details of the receipt would be written on the top paper, and the pressure would cause carbon from the carbon paper to imprint on the paper beneath. (This is the origin of the expression “carbon copy” to mean two identical things).

Although this process was effective, it had a number of challenges. First of all, carbon paper can be messy, marking your hands and soiling other things that you touch. It also poses a security risk. If you write a receipt, the imprints are left on the carbon paper. When you discard the carbon paper, anyone could retrieve it and try to read the details. That’s why carbonless paper was such a welcome innovation.

Developed by chemists Lowell Schleicher and Barry Green, carbonless paper allows you to create multiform parts with very little pressure. The paper is coated with two kinds of chemicals: Coated Front (CF) or Coated Back (CB). These chemicals are in tiny pods that are released when there’s pressure from a pen or a printer.

Comparing Various Kinds of Receipt Paper

With so many options for receipt paper available, it can be tricky knowing which one to choose. Let’s look at some of the similarities and differences to help you make a decision.

Thermal paper, wood-free paper, and carbonless paper all come in white. Carbonless paper can also come in other colors, such as pink or yellow. Both thermal paper and carbonless paper have a coating, while wood-free paper has none. For thermal paper, ribbons are not required, whereas they are needed for the other two types.

Compared to thermal papers, wood-free papers are more expensive in the long run. They require the extra cost of buying ink and cartridges frequently. Thermal papers are designed exclusively for thermal printers, while wood-free rolls are universal because they can work with all kinds of standard printers. Carbonless papers, on the other hand, work mostly with laser printers.

Weigh up all these factors as you decide what type of receipt paper you need for your business.

Would You Like a Receipt?

Receipts are an important part of every business entity. While digital receipts are making strides in the world of commerce, paper receipts are still relevant and necessary for any business that transacts in person or has a physical store.

Make sure that your receipts are accurate and of high quality by choosing the right receipt paper. Most people use thermal paper rolls for their receipts. However, do not be afraid to try wood-free or carbonless paper if you think that will work best for your business.

Want to find out more about the different types of receipt paper that are available? Get in touch with the United Paper team, and we’ll be pleased to advise you and help you find the most appropriate supplies for your needs.