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Storing all your documents and photos on your computer desktop is a great way to save paper and space, but sometimes you want something more tangible and easier to access. With laminating sheets, you can add durability to how-to manuals and recipes, create luggage or name badges, or put together scrapbooks of printed photos and collages for family and friends.

While it’s tempting to laminate everything once you get the hang of it, it’s definitely a no-no when it comes to certain governmental and legal materials and serious archivists should evaluate the best preservation options. But when you look at your dog-eared recipe notes and box full of concert wristbands, you’ll find more than enough practical and creative ideas to inspire you. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

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Self-adhesive laminating sheets don’t require additional equipment and are perfect for small jobs like ensuring school schedules, awards, and crafts can hold up after being stuffed into a backpack with sticky fingers. Look for sheets that include a grid or alignment guide for maximum accuracy.

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If you’re assembling business materials or designing gifts for friends to mark a momentous occasion, laminating sheets designed for use with thermal laminating machines help ensure a sleek and consistent appearance for your photos and papers, without unsightly bubbles. Try cutting out bookmarks from laminated decorative papers for a unique gift that lasts.

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For your most-valued items and frequently handled documents, consider laminating sheets that are over 3 millimeters in thickness. You’ll want to strike a balance between caution and utility since thicker sheets are less flexible, and make sure your laminator’s rollers can accommodate the increased bulk.

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