No Carbon Required: What is an NCR pad?

Bright NCR

The phrase ‘carbon copy’ gets its meaning from carbon paper; a paper designed by Pellegrino Turri to allow his blind wife to write letters, without making a mess with the ink.

Using a steel pen, and her husband’s carbon paper, Mrs Turri could write her letters through the transfer of ink (which was already coated on the special paper) onto her page below.

In the 1900s, carbon paper became popular and widely used, particularly within the corporate world. To make a carbon copy, one would sandwich a sheet of carbon paper (with its coating of wax and pigment) between two standard sheets of writing paper. The original copy was the top sheet, which had been hand-written on, and the bottom-most sheet was the carbon copy: a print of the lettering written by hand.

In 1953, a more environmentally friendly, carbon-free type of transfer paper was invented, by the corporation National Cash Register – and given the same initials as the company, NCR. ‘No Carbon Required’ paper does not need the use of three sheets of paper – instead, dye filled micro-capsules line the bottom of the first sheet, which would burst under the pressure of a pen and spill onto the page underneath. This next page has a clay coating on top which the dye reacts with and leaves a permanent mark. These microcapsules are so small and precise that no bleeding of the ink occurs. You can layer numerous sheets of NCR paper to make multiple copies of a document that is being written. See diagram below.

Diagram of NCR layers

This diagram shows the layers of NCR paper and explains how the microcapsules of ink react with the clay layer on the top of the sheet below. Image courtesy of ??????

Here at Fulprint, we make a lot of these pads up as receipt/order forms for businesses – including ourselves!

Do you use NCR paper at work?


  1. Kristine says:

    This NCR pad I think will be useful to some businesses. I don’t actually know how or when they will be using it but I guess it is just not that important. Unless there is something that come up and needs to use one of this.

    • Catherine England says:

      Hi Kristine, thanks for your comment!
      Many of our customers order NCR pads from us for various uses. They are mostly purchased by our clients for receipt pads – both themselves and their own customers can keep a copy of a paid invoice for proof of payment in their records, along with any important signatures on them. Restaurants and cafes often use them for taking orders; they may send one copy to the kitchen and retain one for the bill.

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