Thermal paper is a special fine paper coated with chemicals which will change color when exposed to heat. Even though most printers now use thermal paper to improve business efficiency, it’s important to identify thermal paper from other types of cash register paper.

It’s easy to recognize thermal paper.

Just Scratch the paper quickly with your fingernail. If it leaves black mark, the paper roll is thermal type.  If it’s not, don’t make judgement so quickly. Try other side of the paper. Because for some specific thermal printers, thermal paper surface is rolled inside.

After this step, you know whether the paper is thermal paper or not.

If it’s not thermal paper, then it’s bond paper or carbonless paper. Bond paper and carbonless paper is used for dot-matrix printers. It will show image under pressure. Bond paper is 1 ply paper while carbonless paper has 2-3 plys and in different colors like pink/yellow/green.

To simplify, here is the difference for them:

  • Thermal paper: leave mark after scratching.
  • Bond/woodfree Paper: 1 ply, no mark
  • Carbonless Paper: 2-3 ply, no mark