Transparency film has been widely-used within the educational industry for decades, however the development of versatile, new film styles that are compatible with common copier machines has gained them popularity with many other professional organizations. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of the various styles of transparency film, and provide some insight into ways that they are being used in professional environments.

The Basics

Transparencies are thin, flexible sheets of clear material (generally cellulose acetate) that can be written or printed on for use in presentations and reports. Some styles have sensing stripes, which are narrow strips of removable paper that run down one side of the transparency and help copier machines detect the film as it moves through the rollers. To determine whether or not your machine requires that transparency film sheets have sensing stripes, consult the owner’s manual (or visit the manufacturer’s website) for more information.

Transparency Film Varieties

There are four varieties of transparency film – write-on film, plain paper copier film, laser film, and inkjet film. Write-on film is commonly used with overhead projectors, and can be purchased in pre-cut sheets or bulk rolls. It is most frequently used in conjunction with dry erase markers, which allow the user to write non-permanent messages, but permanent markers can also be used to create non-removable markings. Plain paper copier film is specially designed to run through plain paper copiers, allowing you to create large quantities of identical transparencies in either color or black-and-white. Laser film is similar to plain paper copier film in that it can be used to make a high volume of black-and-white or color prints, however it is made to work specifically within laser printers. Inkjet film allows the ink from standard inkjet printers to adhere to the film, but often requires extra drying time and the use of special print settings.


When used with overhead projectors, write-on transparencies provide a great visual aid for presentations and conferences, since they allow the speaker to make illustrative notes and sketches that correspond with questions from the audience. Plain paper copier films, laser films, and inkjet films make eye-catching inserts into bound documents, as they can be used to create overlays in employee training manuals, financial reports, or even legal presentations. Transparencies even have craft applications, and can be used to add interest to scrapbook pages and art projects, especially when personal photos are printed onto them.

In Review

With all of the assorted varieties available on the market, transparency film makes an excellent addition to any school or office environment. From the board room to the classroom, these versatile films have almost limitless applications, such as providing visual aids during presentations, creating custom overlays in company manuals, or even for making unique art projects. To ensure proper performance, it is important that you select the proper transparency style for your purposes: write-on film for use with dry erase markers, plain paper copier film works with plain paper copiers, laser printers utilize laser film, and inkjet film is designed for inkjet printers. If you choose to use any of the varieties made for copiers or printers, be sure to consult your owner’s manual for complete usage instructions and to determine if your machine requires the use of a sensing stripe.

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