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How to remove ink on carbon copy paper

Updated February 21, 2017

Many options are available to copy documents today and some are quicker than others. If you are trying to copy something that has an intricate design or is on a surface you can't easily use with a copy machine, turn to some old favourites such as graphite or carbon paper. Carbon paper dates back to 1806 and it is still hanging in there for those special projects. Using an ink-covered base sheet with a layered tissue paper top and firm paper bottom, you can transfer traced images and designs through the layered pages.

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  1. Protect your work surface with a drop paper or brown paper bag to prevent accidental transfer of ink.

  2. Set the carbon paper on your protected work surface. If it has separated sheets, layer the three layers with the finishing page on bottom, the ink-coated carbon paper ink side down and the image you wish to trace on top o that. Many times a tissue paper cover is also on top of the ink page layer that on last.

  3. Write your message or trace the image you want to transfer. Press firmly to ensure that it penetrates all of the pages. Do not let the layered pages slip out of place to prevent smudging of the final image.

  4. Lift the layered pages and remove the final image page from the bottom. Check your final image to make sure it transferred properly. Set it aside away from the carbon paper.

  5. Tip

    When working with carbon paper, remember that the paper is very thin. This helps you to easily trace images through the layers but the paper is fragile as a result. Be careful not to rip the carbon paper or the layers while you work or move around. Be careful not to rip the carbon paper or the layers while you work or move around. The ink sheet in your carbon paper can be reused multiple times so hold on to it. If you notice the ink is dried or flaking dispose of that sheet and you can replace it.


    Carbon paper ink is easily rubbed off onto other paper and clothing so try to set up an area in your work space where you will sit the carbon paper alone.

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Things You'll Need

  • Carbon paper
  • Stencils
  • Drop paper (a cut-open brown bag or parchment paper is OK)
  • Pens
  • Hand towel, lightly damp
  • Paper towels

About the Author

Shannon Johnson

Shannon Johnson has been a freelance writer since 2008, specializing in health and organic and green-living topics. She practiced law for five years before moving on to work in higher education. She writes about what she lives on a daily basis.

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