4 Types of Business Forms: A Quick Reference

Posted by CBF Staff on

Edge-glued forms, unit-set forms, continous forms, and cut sheets: this guide is part of a series we're developing at CreativeBusinessForms.com, and is meant to provide a quick reference to the different types of business forms we sell in our store.

Edge-glued Forms

The individual parts of an edge-glued form are bound together at an edge, usually the top edge, by a thin line of glue. Printing these forms on chemically-treated NCR (carbonless) paper allows information written on the top sheet of the form to be transferred onto the sheets beneath it, creating an instant receipt or acknowledgment that can be simply peeled away at the glued edge.

NCR paper, or carbonless copy paper, is a coated paper patented in 1953 by the NCR Corporation. It is designed to copy written information from the top sheet onto the sheets beneath it. Other (carbon) coated papers were developed previously for the same purpose. Fan-apart adhesive compound was developed to bond NCR coated papers together.

A collator arranges the multicolored NCR papers into the proper sequence for a 2-to-6-part business form, and then the stacks of forms are placed onto a padding press or otherwise aligned at the appropriate edge where the glue is applied. Once dry, the "wall" of glue that forms at the edge of the stack can be fanned apart into the separate 2-to-6-part forms.

Unit-set (Snap-out) Forms

Unit-set forms are also referred to as snap-set or snap-out forms. Like our carbonless edge-glued forms, unit sets are multi-part forms printed on chemically treated NCR (carbonless) paper. The collated sets of different colored papers are joined in the case of unit sets by a glued, perforated stub as opposed to a line of glue at the edge of the form. Depending on the size of the form and the manufacturing process, the stub size could be 1/2", 5/8", or 3/4". The stubs typically feature line holes which provide a strong visual distinction between unit sets and edge-glued forms.

A carefully separated unit-set form provides a clean, professional look at the bound edge for all parts because the glued section is torn away from the form.

Unlike edge-glued forms, unit-set forms were not always produced on carbonless paper. They could also be produced on standard 15lb bond paper with interleaved carbon sheets transferring the information to the lower parts from the top part, much like NCR paper does. The unit-set forms in the CreativeBusinessForms.com store use the NCR paper.

Continuous Forms

Continuous forms, in the case of the multi-part ones, are also printed on collated sets of chemically treated NCR (carbonless) paper. The collated parts of continuous forms are joined on the left and right sides by perforated, crimped (or sometimes glued) stubs; and the individual forms are not cut but rather separated by another perforation that allows them to fold into a stack, and tear apart neatly into separate forms. Dot-matrix and line printers use the line holes on the perforated stubs on the sides to feed the continuous forms, quite literally as a continuous sheet, for printing. Continuous forms are also known as pin-feed forms or dot-matrix forms.

Creative Business Forms also sells a one-part continuous form that is not printed on NCR paper, but instead on 20lb bond paper.

Continuous forms more commonly utilized interleaved carbon sheets between standard 15lb bond papers instead of NCR paper to allow information to be transferred from the top sheet to the remaining parts. The carbonless continuous forms on the CreativeBusinessForms.com store use the NCR paper.

Cut Sheets

Cut sheets, in the printing industry, are individual one-part forms that are cut from a larger sheet of paper on which multiple copies of the form are simultaneously printed. They are printed together and then cut apart into individuals afterward. The finished, separated forms come in a variety of sizes, including all of the typical sizes for business forms, namely letter sizes, and fulfill a variety of purposes. They are commonly used for invoices and other one-part forms, and payroll or accounts payable checks and other banking documents.

The one-part continuous forms are fed through a dot-matrix printer which adds all of the specific information that varies from document to document: the specifics of an order for an invoice, such as date, billing information, and the contents of the order. Cut sheets serve the same purpose for laser printers.

Please note that at the time of writing, cut sheets are only available in the CBF store as a custom order. Get a quote.

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