The History of Loose Leaf Paper

Loose-leaf paper is paper that is available in single sheets. It is not on a continuous roll or bound in place, although the sheets may be perforated or held together by a flexible adhesive that makes them easily removable.

The Creation of the Loose-Leaf Notebook

Rhode Islander Henry T. Sisson filed patents for 2-ring and 3-ring binders in 1854. He found it was difficult to organize papers on their own and created the binders as a solution to the problem.

In 1913, law clerk Richard Prentice Ettinger found that with rapid changes in the law, books frequently became outdated as soon as they were printed. Ettinger had the idea to remove book pages from their binding and punch holes in them so they could be placed in a ring binder. That way, pages could easily be removed and added as changes occurred.

Loose-Leaf Paper for Small Businesses

Although today's technology makes it easy to create and store documents on electronic devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones, there are advantages to using paper, including loose-leaf paper, for business records and communications. Consider the following paper characteristics when comparing pen and paper to computers:

  • Cost-effective: Paper is inexpensive and easily obtained.
  • User-friendly: No training is required, and paper can be used almost anywhere.
  • Safe: Information is not lost due to a computer crash or hacking.

Paper has its disadvantages in that it can be lost or destroyed by fire, flood and even an ordinary mishap such as spilled coffee. Only you can decide if and when loose-leaf paper is appropriate for your business needs.

Types of Loose-Leaf Paper

In the U.S., loose-leaf paper is most commonly available in letter size, which measures 8.5 by 11 inches. Three holes are punched on the side, although sometimes you see five holes so that the paper can fit in both 2-ring and 3-ring notebooks.

Most loose-leaf paper has faint lines, known as rules, printed on it. The difference between wide-ruled paper and college-ruled paper is the spacing between the lines. The distance between lines on wide-ruled paper is 11/32 of an inch, while the distance between lines on college-ruled paper is 9/32 of an inch.

Whether to use college-ruled or wide-ruled paper for high school, college or business is largely a matter of preference. There are more lines per page on college-ruled paper, but your writing has to be smaller to fit, so it may be harder to read.

Types of Ring Binders

Ring binders are made of plastic, polypropylene, PVC or paper overboard with metal rings. Post binders, most often used for accounting records, typically have sturdy, rigid front and back covers with metal posts and one of several types of metal fastenings.

Ring binders made for standard letter-sized paper range in thickness from a half-inch to 5 inches. Round rings hold 100 to 400 sheets, depending on the binder thickness. D-rings are sturdier and can accommodate up to 1,300 pages in the 5-inch size. The sturdiest binders have slant rings, which can hold 975 sheets of loose-leaf paper in the largest size.

Several companies that make standard-sized binders also manufacture smaller binders, including a 3-by-5-inch size, and loose-leaf papers to fit. The smaller binders work well for contact information and note-taking. They are easily transportable in a pocket or bag.

References

About the Author

Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.