When paper is cut to a small width, it curls up like this. Why does this happen?

Curling paper

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Probably depends on how you cut it. Many methods apply tension to the edge along the cut, and then... $\endgroup$ Commented May 7, 2014 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Did you try with news paper? it will not curl. $\endgroup$
    – Sensebe
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 1:49

1 Answer 1


When it happens for a paper you hold above the floor, one of the ways to deal with the forces and deformation. If you are holding the paper at an angle, not vertically, paper closer to the point where you hols it is all that does not let the farther parts just hang down. Now, paper is not really good at shear deformation, but if it so happens that a stripe bends left or right, it keeps doing so, because slightly bending is just an easier deformation and nothing prevents it from doing so.

However, I think you are talking of stronger curls, and that probably has to do with the way you cut it up, bending it as you go through. I just sliced off a thin stripe of paper with boxcutter — almost no deformation occured.

Note also that if we are talking about really large sheets of paper, the paper during its creation is pressed several between cylinders and then rolled onto reels. So small (or not so small) curling is quite typical.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.