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Money and Finance

How Money is Made: Paper Money

Paper money is commonly used throughout much of the world today. In the United States the official name for paper money is the Federal Reserve Note. However, they are usually just called "bills" or "dollar bills."

Where is paper money made in the United States?

United States paper money is made by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It is a division of the Department of the Treasury. There are two locations, one in Washington, D.C. and another in Fort Worth, Texas.

Who designs new bills?

New bills are designed by artists at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. They first draw out some rough sketches with different ideas. They work on creating a dignified image that will portray the strength of the United States. They then put anti-counterfeit measures into the design that will keep people from being able to copy the bill. The final design must be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Making Paper Money

Making paper money is a complex procedure. Most of the steps are designed to make the money difficult to counterfeit.

1) Special Paper - United States paper money uses a very special type of paper that is made of 75% cotton and 25% linen. The paper is manufactured for the U.S. Treasury and each sheet is carefully tracked to make sure that none of it is stolen by counterfeiters. During the printing stage, the bills are printed on large sheets which are cut into individual bills at the end.

2) Special Ink - The ink used to print United States paper money is special as well. They use special formulas designed by the U.S. Treasury. The back of each bill is printed with green ink. On the front a variety of inks are used depending on the bill including black ink, color-shifting ink, and metallic ink.

3) Offset Printing - The first stage in the printing process is called the offset printing stage. During this stage, the background is printed on each side by a huge printer that can print up to 10,000 sheets of money per hour. The sheets then need to dry for three days (72 hours) before moving on to the next stage.

4) Intaglio Printing - After the sheets are dry, they go to the intaglio printer. Here some of the finer details of the design are added including numerals, portraits, some lettering, and scrollwork. Each side is printed separately. First the detail is added to the green side. Next, the sheet dries for 72 hours, Then it goes through another intaglio printer and the details of the portrait side are printed.

5) Inspection - The sheets then go through an inspection process. Digital computers analyze each sheet in minute detail to make sure that the paper, ink, and printing all meet the precise standards.

6) Overprinting - If the sheets pass inspection they are sent to the overprinting stage where serial numbers and seals are printed.

7) Stacking and Cutting - The final stage is the stacking and cutting stage. Here the sheets are stacked and sent to a large cutting machine that slices the sheets into individual bills. Now the bills are considered legal currency.

Interesting Facts About How Paper Money is Made

Learn More about Money and Finance:

Personal Finance

Filling out a Check
Managing a Checkbook
How to Save
Credit Cards
How a Mortgage Works
How Interest Works
Insurance Basics
Identity Theft

About Money

History of Money
How Coins are Made
How Paper Money is Made
Counterfeit Money
United States Currency
World Currencies
Money Math

Counting Money
Making Change
Basic Money Math
Money Word Problems: Addition and Subtraction
Money Word Problems: Multiplication and Addition
Money Word Problems: Interest and Percent


How Banks Work
How the Stock Market Works
Supply and Demand
Supply and Demand Examples
Economic Cycle
Adam Smith
How Taxes Work
Glossary and Terms

Note: This information is not to be used for individual legal, tax, or investment advice. You should always contact a professional financial or tax advisor before making financial decisions.

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