Paper which has had the acid removed from the pulp so that it has a neutral 7.0 pH (or above) is known as acid free paper.
The acid normally in paper can discolor it over time and turn it brittle. Photos printed on papers with acid will be altered and can fade and even eventually disintegrate. Paints and items that come into contact with the acid paper such as photos in photo albums or items in a collage will have a shortened life.
When to Use Acid Free Paper in Desktop PublishingThe use of acid free paper can prolong the life of a document or project printed on, painted on, or attached to the paper. For preservation and long life, use papers specifically labeled as acid free. For the best preservation, all materials including inks, glues, fabrics, and bindings used in a project should also be acid free.
Many desktop publishing projects are designed to have a relatively short life because they are frequently replaced with newer versions — such as brochures, price lists, newsletters, sales fliers, or party invitations. Using acid free papers is not usually necessarily. However, for projects that are likely to be preserved or business documents that need to be archived for many years consider using acid free papers. A few typical desktop publishing projects where acid free or archival paper is common include:
- Birth, Graduation, and Wedding Announcements
- Keepsake Books (such as family history books)
- Posters and Fine Art Prints
- Trading Cards
- Annual Reports
Uses and Resources for Acid Free Papers
- About.com Scrapbooking: Safe Papers for Scrapbooking addresses newsprint, handmade papers, wallpaper, and acid free papers for scrapbooks. It also suggests that while ink jet printer ink is acid free, for preserving scrapbook memories you may want to use laser toner or photocopies instead.
If you want to use specific wallpaper or wrapping paper patterns or newspaper clippings in your projects, Rebecca Ludens recommends "scanning the paper and printing a copy of it on acid-free printer paper."
- About.com Antiques: How to Properly Store Antiques takes you through steps for preserving, storing, and framing old photographs.
- About.com Miniatures: Why Use Acid Free Materials describes a variety of problems caused by acidity in papers and other materials, how to avoid acidity issues, and how to test for acid levels.
"Acidity is a problem for collectibles as it migrates into various materials and attacks the bonds, weakening them and causing a permanent irreversible change in many materials." — Lesley Shepherd
- About.com Drawing / Sketching: Top Graphite Pencil Drawing Papers lists several options for acid free papers and Top Charcoal and Pastel Paper includes colorful and textured acid free paper options.
- About.com Rubber Stamping: Acid Free Supplies for Rubber Stamping and Scrapbooking describes acid free alternatives to help preserve your work.
" While buying acid free supplies may not be necessary if you are making items that you don't intend to have a long life and that you don't expect to be kept for decades or passed through generations, acid free supplies at least gives you the option to create heirloom items." — Kate Pullen