The word “tracing paper” is translated from French as “stencil”, “copy”. As authoritative sources indicate, the exact name of its inventor is not known for certain. This type of paper arose in the 17th century in Germany, in connection with the needs of architects, draftsmen, and engineers who needed to copy this or that drawing or diagram. There is an assumption that the first modern tracing paper was invented by civil engineers, due to the increasing need to accurately copy complex elements of drawings.

Copying was carried out in the usual way “under a stencil”, tracing paper was superimposed on the original, and a contour was drawn along it, appearing under its transparent surface. This copying method has become firmly established in the activities of specialists in various professions and is sometimes used even now.

Medieval craftsmen made the very first “tracing paper” as follows: ordinary paper was soaked in weak alcohol, kerosene or turpentine. So it became more transparent compared to its original state. But this method caused various inconveniences: the paper left stains, it was problematic to draw something on it, etc., which is why the need arose for the tracing paper that is known today.

In Russia, the first industrial production of tracing paper was established in Peterhof at the first state-owned paper mill in 1816. Over time, the production of tracing paper was mastered by other enterprises.

Modern tracing paper can be made either from bleached sulphate cellulose with the addition of wood pulp and semi-cotton pulp with adhesive, or from ready-made glassine. Its main characteristics are density and thickness. To achieve transparency of tracing paper, one of two methods is used – calendering (passing through special rotating shafts) or increasing the degree of grinding. The last method is the most effective, as it adds strength to the paper, but is also more expensive. It is possible to combine these two methods into one production line.

Matte tracing paper without a glossy side, intended for drawing
and copying in pencil, was made from non-calendered paper. Tracing paper, which had a glossy side, was produced in two types: ink and lavsan. Ink tracing paper was distinguished by its thinness and was made on a paper basis. Lavsan tracing paper had a transparent film base on the glossy side.

Pencil tracing paper without gloss, manufactured in the USSR, had such abrasive properties that it was sometimes used as a handy grinding material for copper, brass, and sometimes even steel and glass. For example, with its help, factory calligraphy pens were often brought to the required gliding smoothness. Also, using matte tracing paper, the rounded outer corners of the pen, which scratched the paper, were polished.

Modern tracing paper is used both for drawing with pencil and ink, and for digital printing on plotters, printers and plotters. It is manufactured in accordance with the standards and requirements of GOST. Also, tracing paper is sometimes used in the food industry as a cushioning and packaging material or in the sewing industry for the production of stencils, patterns, etc.