Choosing a paper shredder can be complicated enough with the hundreds of models to choose from, but throw in paper shredder lingo and the process becomes even more frustrating. The following terms cover everything from what a paper shredder is to the definition of the recent laws that are making paper shredders more and more of a necessity.

Auto On/Off – A standby mode allowing the shredding mechanism to activate when paper passes through the feed entry and stop when the document has been completely shredded.

Auto Reverse – Allows a paper shredder to automatically reverse the direction of the cutting head when a jam occurs.

Baler – A mechanism for collecting, compressing and securing, with string or wire, shred waste into compact bales. Available on some industrial paper shredders, balers greatly reduce the volume of shredded waste.

Capacity The amount of 8 1/2″ x 11″ 20 lb bond paper that a paper shredder can shred at one time.

Chad – The small strips, pieces of paper or shred waste that remain of the documents fed through a paper shredder.

Continuous Duty – A rating applied to motors that continue to operate after reaching the normal operating temperature without the need for a cool down period.

Conveyor Belt – A moving belt designed to efficiently feed paper products into an industrial shredder.

Cross Cut or Confetti Cut – Cutting method that cuts documents horizontally and vertically to produce a 5/16″ x 3″ to 1/32″ x 3/16″ shred size.

Cutting Head – The cutting assembly inside a shredder that cuts paper into small pieces.

FACTA – Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act – Enacted by the Federal Trade Commission on June 1, 2005, the Disposal Rule section of FACTA requires any person who possesses the personal information of employees and/or consumers to follow high standards when disposing of the information. Designed to reduce the incidence of identity theft, FACTA requires employers to take “reasonable measure” to protect the personal information in their possession by burning, pulverizing or shredding paper documents and by erasing or destroying electronic media.

Feed Throat or Feed Entry – The opening through which paper is fed into a shredder. The width of the throat typically varies from 9″ to 16″ or larger.

Forms Rack – An optional rack available on some paper shredders, designed to hold a stack of continuous computer paper as it feeds through the shredder.

High Security – High security shredders are paper shredders that meet or exceed the Level 5 security criteria.

HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – Enacted in 2003 by Congress in order to protect the privacy of health related information. HIPAA requires all healthcare providers and businesses that contract with such providers to follow strict standards when transferring patient records between parties and when disposing of such records.

Hopper – A receptacle positioned over the cutting head of a paper shredder, designed to accept bulky material such as crumpled paper. Paper products and other accepted media are pushed into the cutting head with paddles. Available on some commercial and industrial paper shredders.

Level 5 – Paper shredders are given a security level rating based on their shred size. Level 5 is considered suitable for Top Secret or Classified documents with a maximum shred size of 0.8mm x 12mm (1/32″ x 15/32″).

Level 6 – Paper shredders are given a security level rating based on their shred size. Level 6 is the highest security level with a maximum shred size of 0.8mm x 4mm (1/32″ x 5/32″). Level 6 shredding is approved by the NSA, CSS and DOD for the shredding of top secret and classified documents.

Paper Shredder – A machine designed to cut paper into strips or small pieces for the purpose of making documents containing sensitive or personal information unreadable.

Photo Eye – An electronic sensor that detects the presence of paper and automatically activates the cutting heads of a paper shredder.

Reverse Switch (Manual) – A manual reverse switch that allows the user to put the shredder in reverse to release jammed paper from the cutting head.

Shred Size – The size of the paper pieces or chads that remain after a document has been shredded.

Shredder Oil – Specially formulated oil designed to lubricate and free paper dust from the cutting head of a paper shredder.

Strip Cut – Cutting method that cuts documents into long strips the length of the document and from 3/32″ to 1/2″ wide.

Thermal Protection Cut-Off Switch – An internal motor switch designed to cut off a non-continuous duty motor when it reaches a certain temperature to prevent over-heating.