Scrapbook Definitions & Terms

The Issue of Acid and Lignin
Anything that touches your photos should be acid-free and lignin-free, including paper, glue, markers and stickers. Why? Otherwise your photos will discolor and disintegrate more quickly than they would naturally. Products that are photo-safe will be labeled as such.

What Is Acid-Free—and Why Does It Matter?
Acid causes paper and photos to disintegrate. This aging process is slowed significantly when acid is removed from paper during the manufacturing process. Not all scrapbooking materials are photo-safe, so be sure your paper, glue and markers are labeled acid-free or archival-quality before you purchase them.

What’s Lignin?
Lignin is the natural bonding element which holds wood fibers together. Newsprint contains lignin—you’ll notice how brittle and yellowed a newspaper becomes after just a few days. Like acid, lignin can be removed during processing to make scrapbooking paper safe.

If you want to include newspaper articles or announcements in your scrapbook, photocopy them onto acid-free, lignin-free paper. Copy onto an off-white paper that resembles newsprint for an authentic look.

Archival quality
This is a term used to indicate materials which have undergone laboratory analysis to determine their acidic and buffered content is within safe levels.

Photo safe
This is a term similar to archival quality but more specific to materials used with photographs. Acid-free is the determining factor for a product to be labeled photo-safe.

Sheet protectors
These are made of plastic to slip over a finished scrapbook page, They can be side loading or top loading and fit 6”x6”, 8”x8”, 81/2”x11” or 12”x12” pages. It is important that they be acid-free; those that are will be labeled as such on the box they come in or the album they come with.

To “crop” a photo means to cut the photo. Most of the time, you’ll do this to trim out excess background like sky and grass to better focus on the main subject of the picture. I do warn you though: Don’t get overzealous with cropping—you might inadvertently cut out something like a car or house that will have personal, historical or sentimental meaning later on. And please, please don’t crop those one-of-a-kind heritage photos! Make a color copy of the photo and then crop the copy. But save the original!

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