How can I mark polypropylene sheet protectors in a long-term way?
May 23, 2017 8:40 PM   Subscribe

I recently purchased some polypropylene sheet protectors (like these), and I would like to know how I can mark them in a durable, long-term way.

I'm working on a genealogy project, specifically the organization and preservation of about three generations of older genealogy projects and letters by people whose language skills were more up to the task. My plan is to stick all the documents in archival safe polypropylene sheet protectors and index them, but I'd like to tie them back to the index with some kind of document number written on the page protectors.

I've done some experiments: I can easily write on the protectors with a sharpie, and these address labels seems to stick well. However, sharpies fade and the age of some of this stuff has shown me how poorly common adhesives hold up over time, so I don't have any confidence those will actually work.
posted by cosmic.osmo to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
Would a more permanent marker work for you? I just got one for marking little zip lock bags that seems much better than a Sharpie. Here are some from the supplier I used. I'm sorry, I don't remember which one I chose, but your requirements might be different anyway.
posted by amtho at 8:53 PM on May 23, 2017

Polypropylene is a horrible bastard for marking or gluing. You may want to investigate specialty industrial chemicals (not joking), or else something physical (like punched holes).
posted by aramaic at 9:13 PM on May 23, 2017

Can you just stick a little card with the indexing information inside the sheet protector alongside the document?
posted by aubilenon at 9:26 PM on May 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

Maybe a grease pencil would work? Back in the old days we'd use grease pencils to mark up negative sleeves, which I believe are a similar material. I have boxes of those things from over 20 years ago and the writing is still fine.
posted by primethyme at 9:45 PM on May 23, 2017

Response by poster: The grease pencil idea is interesting. In your experience, does the wax smudge or transfer to adjacent sheets?
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:30 PM on May 23, 2017

We use a label maker in my office for just this purpose. (Something like this.)

The refill tapes can get a bit pricey but you can buy generic ones that work just as well for a fraction of the price on Amazon. The tape sticks on for a very long time, even with high use.
posted by stillmoving at 11:39 PM on May 23, 2017

Staedtler makes a version of its Lumocolor permanent pens ("permanent special") that are intended for use on laminating films, silicone, etc.

Otherwise, aubilenon's suggestion (an archival cotton rag card with the index information on it, tucked into the sleeve) is a very commonly used approach in many archives.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:28 AM on May 24, 2017

We use a label maker at work very similar to stillmovings for our archives. Labels so far have lasted since we started using them in the mid 90s, so more than 20 years. No sign of degradation yet. We use them at ambient and in archival freezers down to -40C/F. They work just fine in all environments.
posted by bonehead at 10:01 AM on May 24, 2017

Gaylord Archival has a lot of options for permanent archival marking supplies. Look for a pigment-based marker/pen (as opposed to dye-based, like Sharpies). I see some pens meant for non-porous surfaces but I'd go with labels over writing directly on the sleeves (easier to read and easier to update later should the need arise).

I would not put labels inside the sleeves themselves. Anything that goes in with the documents needs to be acid-free and archival, and even then I'd still be worried about weird yellowing (like here), if you're not doing a full-on preservation project. Much simpler to just stick the labels to the outside.

I wouldn't use grease pencils on anything you'd expect to be handled more than very occasionally. In my experience, the benefit is that they're solvent-resistant and write on everything but can still be wiped off of non-porous surfaces (like lab glassware).
posted by yeahlikethat at 10:28 AM on May 24, 2017

« Older Creative solution to small house laundry woes   |   This kid's song is too creepy, right? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.