How To Preserve Newspaper Clippings

Newspaper Clippings


Newspaper clippings can be treasured keepsakes, preserving moments of history, personal milestones, or significant events. Whether you’re keeping a clipping of a major news event, a family member’s achievement, or a favorite article, proper preservation techniques are essential to ensure these fragile pieces of paper last for years to come. We’ll explore the best practices for preserving newspaper clippings, covering everything from handling and storage to digitization and display.

Understanding the Nature of Newsprint

Newspaper Clippings

The Composition of Newspaper

Newspapers are typically printed on newsprint, a type of paper made from wood pulp. Newsprint is lightweight and inexpensive, designed for short-term use. However, it has several characteristics that make it prone to deterioration:

Acidity: Newsprint is acidic due to the lignin content in wood pulp. Over time, the acid causes the paper to become brittle and yellow.

Fragility: The thinness of newsprint makes it susceptible to tearing and creasing.

Ink Stability: Newspaper ink can smudge and fade, especially when exposed to light, heat, and moisture.

Understanding these vulnerabilities is the first step in learning how to properly preserve newspaper clippings.

Handling Newspaper Clippings

Minimizing Direct Contact

When handling newspaper clippings, it’s crucial to minimize direct contact to avoid transferring oils and dirt from your hands onto the paper. Here are some tips:

Use Gloves: Wear cotton or nitrile gloves when handling clippings to prevent oils and dirt from damaging the paper.

Use Tweezers: For very fragile clippings, use tweezers to handle the paper gently.

Avoiding Damage

Handle clippings carefully to avoid creasing, tearing, or otherwise damaging the paper. Always support the clipping fully, especially if it is large or fragile, and avoid folding or bending it.

Cleaning Newspaper Clippings

Dry Cleaning Methods

Before storing newspaper clippings, it’s important to ensure they are clean. Dry cleaning methods are preferred to avoid introducing moisture, which can lead to mold and other issues:

Soft Brush: Use a soft brush to gently remove loose dirt and debris from the surface of the clipping.

Rubber Eraser: A rubber eraser or a specialized archival cleaning pad can be used to remove surface dirt and smudges carefully. Always test a small area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the paper.

Avoiding Wet Cleaning

Wet cleaning methods should generally be avoided for newspaper clippings, as water can cause the paper to warp, bleed, or disintegrate.

Stabilizing Newspaper Clippings


One of the key steps in preserving newspaper clippings is neutralizing the acid in the paper. Deacidification sprays or solutions can help extend the life of newsprint:

Deacidification Sprays: Archival-grade deacidification sprays are available and can be applied to newspaper clippings to neutralize acids. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Professional Services: For valuable or large collections, consider using professional deacidification services offered by conservators.


Encapsulation involves sealing the clipping in a protective enclosure made of inert, archival-quality materials. This method protects the clipping from handling, dust, and environmental factors:

Polyester Sleeves: Polyester sleeves, such as those made from Mylar, are commonly used for encapsulation. Ensure the sleeves are archival-grade and free from plasticizers that can damage the paper.

Archival Folders and Envelopes: Acid-free folders and envelopes can also be used to store clippings. These provide a buffer against environmental factors and physical damage.

Storage of Newspaper Clippings

Choosing the Right Storage Environment

The storage environment plays a crucial role in the longevity of newspaper clippings. Ideal conditions include:

Temperature: Store clippings in a cool environment, ideally between 60-70°F (15-21°C). Avoid temperature fluctuations.

Humidity: Maintain a stable relative humidity of 30-50%. High humidity can lead to mold growth, while low humidity can make the paper brittle.

Light: Protect clippings from exposure to light, especially direct sunlight, which can cause fading and deterioration. Store clippings in a dark or dimly lit area.

Archival Storage Solutions

Investing in archival-quality storage solutions will help protect your newspaper clippings for the long term:

Acid-Free Boxes: Store clippings in acid-free, lignin-free storage boxes. These boxes provide physical protection and help maintain a stable environment.

Archival Sleeves and Folders: Place each clipping in an individual archival sleeve or folder before storing them in boxes. This prevents clippings from touching each other and offers additional protection.

Avoiding Common Storage Pitfalls

To ensure the longevity of your newspaper clippings, avoid common storage mistakes:

Avoid Plastic Containers: Non-archival plastic containers can off-gas chemicals that may damage paper over time. Use only archival-grade storage materials.

Avoid Attics and Basements: These areas often experience extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations, making them unsuitable for storing delicate paper items.

Keep Away from Pollutants: Store clippings in a clean environment, away from dust, smoke, and other pollutants that can accelerate deterioration.

Digitizing Newspaper Clippings

Benefits of Digitization

Digitizing newspaper clippings offers several advantages, including easy access, sharing, and protection from physical wear and tear. Digital copies can also serve as a backup in case the original clipping is damaged or lost.

Scanning Techniques

When digitizing newspaper clippings, use high-quality scanning techniques to ensure the best possible digital reproduction:

Resolution: Scan clippings at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch) to capture detailed images. For very fine print or intricate details, consider using 600 dpi.

Color Settings: Use color scanning to capture the full range of tones and details, even for black-and-white clippings. This helps preserve the original appearance.

File Format: Save scanned images in a high-quality file format, such as TIFF, which is preferred for archival purposes due to its lossless compression. JPEG can be used for everyday use and sharing, but it should be noted that it uses lossy compression.

Digital Preservation

Digital files also need to be preserved carefully to ensure they remain accessible over time:

Backup: Create multiple backups of your digital files and store them in different locations, such as external hard drives, cloud storage, or DVDs.

Metadata: Add metadata to your digital files, including details about the clipping’s content, source, and date. This helps organize and retrieve files easily.

Regular Checks: Periodically check your digital files for integrity and compatibility with current technology. Update storage media and file formats as needed to prevent data loss.

Displaying Newspaper Clippings

Newspaper Clippings

Framing and Display

If you wish to display your newspaper clippings, proper framing techniques are essential to protect them from damage:

Use Archival Materials: Choose acid-free mats, backing boards, and UV-protective glass or acrylic to prevent exposure to harmful light and environmental factors.

Avoid Direct Sunlight: Hang framed clippings away from direct sunlight and areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms or kitchens.

Regular Maintenance: Dust frames regularly and inspect clippings for signs of deterioration. Replace any non-archival materials if necessary.

Creative Display Ideas

Displaying your newspaper clippings creatively can enhance their visual appeal while preserving their integrity:

Shadow Boxes: Use shadow boxes to create a 3D display that protects clippings from dust and damage while adding depth to the presentation.

Collage Frames: Arrange multiple clippings in a collage frame to showcase related articles or a series of events. Ensure each clipping is properly mounted and protected.

Rotating Displays: Consider using a display case with rotating features to periodically change the clippings on display, reducing prolonged exposure to light for any single item.

Long-Term Preservation Strategies

Regular Inspections

Perform regular inspections of your stored newspaper clippings to check for signs of deterioration, such as yellowing, brittleness, or mold. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

Professional Conservation

For valuable or highly deteriorated clippings, consider consulting a professional conservator. They can provide specialized treatments, such as deacidification, repair, and stabilization, to extend the life of your clippings.

Environmental Monitoring

Use tools like hygrometers and data loggers to monitor the temperature and humidity levels in your storage area. Maintaining stable conditions is crucial for long-term preservation.

Newspaper Clippings


Preserving newspaper clippings requires careful handling, appropriate storage, and regular maintenance. By understanding the nature of newsprint and following best practices for preservation, you can ensure that your clippings remain intact and accessible for years to come. Whether you choose to store them physically or digitize them for added security, taking these steps will help you safeguard these valuable pieces of history. Remember, the key to successful preservation lies in proactive care and a commitment to using archival-quality materials and techniques.