What is Stationery Tape?

Mary Elizabeth

Stationery tape is the tape commonly found in offices for general purpose use. It is also known as cello, cellophane tape, or sticky tape. This kind of stationery tape is used for repairing torn paper, putting together paper projects and posters, sealing envelopes, and arts and crafts, among other uses.

Stationery tape comes in a wide variety of widths.
Stationery tape comes in a wide variety of widths.

Stationery tape is sold in a variety of different ways. First, it may be marketed in a disposable dispenser that is not capable of being reloaded. It can also be sold in sets of rolls to be loaded into a permanent dispenser that is made to take refills, but is purchased separately from the tape. Such a dispenser comes with a core on which the roll of tape is mounted. Either of these dispensers includes a special blade for cutting the tape.

Stationery tape comes in a variety of widths. The most common widths include ½ inch (12.7 mm), ¾ inch (~19 mm), and 1 inch (~25 mm). The tape is mounted on a core that is usually 1 or 3 inches in diameter (~2.5 cm or ~7.6 cm). If the tape is bought for a permanent dispenser, it is important that both the core size and the width be a good match for the dispenser to work properly.

Stationery tape may also be sold as pre-cut strips. These become available one at a time from a specially designed dispenser, which is refillable. The tape strips are ¾ inches by 2 inches (~19 mm by ~51 mm). This product may be safer for children for whom the cutting blade on the standard tape dispenser might prove to be a hazard, and may also prevent wasted tape.

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There are three finishes frequently found in stationery tape: transparent, translucent, and matte finish. The transparent finish is clear and glossy and forms a permanent bond. Cheap stationery tape tends to be translucent and glossy, rather than clear, and may yellow with age. Tape with a matte finish is virtually invisible when applied to paper and does not show up on photocopies. It forms a permanent bond and can be written on using pen, pencil, or marker.

A separate kind of stationery tape that comes with the same core sizes and widths, but has a specialized application, is matte-finish removable tape, which does not provide a permanent bond and is therefore ideal for works in progress — whether business or artistic — when placement is not yet final.

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Discussion Comments


@momothree: In 1930, a man by the name of Richard Drew was employed at 3M. He came up with the idea of a waterproof covering for railroad refrigeration cars. His idea to add adhesive to cellophane didn’t work for the refrigerator cars. However, it was a hit as a moisture-proof seal for packages.

This product continued to develop over the years. In 1939, the first hand-held Scotch tape dispenser was put on the market by 3M. In 1945, they created double sided tape and in 1961, Magic tape was created. Magic tape is the kind that has a matte finish rather than a glossy finish and it appears virtually invisible on most surfaces.


Who invented Scotch tape and when?


@wesley91: Scotch tape is, indeed, stationery tape. “Scotch” is just the name brand of cellophane tape. This tape came to be during the Great Depression. People did not have money to spare and they were able to make simple repairs with this cellulose tape.


Is Scotch tape the same thing as stationery tape?

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