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The Difference Between Shredder Cut Styles

Security level is a vital piece in your compliance and paper security puzzle. What kind of documents do you need to shred? What kind of information do those documents contain? The security level of a shredder determines how thoroughly a document is shredded. Higher security shredders cut documents into tinier pieces, and the kinds of documents you need to destroy help determine the level of security your office needs.

Lower level security shredders, like P-2 and P-3, are excellent for shredding junk mail and cutting out paper clutter. The minimum standard for shredding any type of document that contains confidential information is a P-4 Super Cross-Cut shredder. If you handle bank statements, social security numbers, and any other similarly personal data, you need a shredder with a P-4 rating or above. If you’re looking for a high level of security, a P-5 Micro Cut shredder is an excellent choice. They’re a popular choice when security is crucial, and you’ll often find them at financial firms and law practices. Make sure you take security level into consideration before you purchase a shredder.

Cut Style  Security Type Security Level Shreds Per Page
 Strip-Cut Basic   P-2  40 
 Cross-Cut Secure   P-3  200 
 Super Cross-Cut Confidential  P-4  400 
 Micro-Cut High  P-5  2,000 
 High Security Top Secret  P-7  15,600 


Basic (Level P-2) 

The strip-cut is a basic cut style that produces spaghetti-like strands. This is the lowest level security cut style and is best used for shredding day-to-day junk mail and paperwork containing expired or non-sensitive information.

Shreds per page: 40 


Secure (Level P-3) 

Cross-cut shredders have two sets of blades, which shred paper both lengthwise and widthwise. This cut style reduces the shredded paper into small pieces instead of long strips. It's meant for everyday paperwork, emails and reports containing non-sensitive personal information.

Shreds per page: 200  

Super Cross-Cut 

Confidential (Level P-4)

This is the first cut style that can be used on documents that contain sensitive personal information and business documents that contain proprietary information. This cut style produces even smaller shredded pieces than the cross-cut.

Shreds per page: 400  


High (Level P-5) 

Designed to shred confidential business documents that contain financial, strategic and/or sensitive personal information, this shred style is perfect for financial groups, law firms, medical practices, and accounting firms. This cut style produces even smaller shredded pieces than super cross-cut, cutting paper into tiny bits

Shreds per page: 2,000    

High Security  

Top Secret (Level P-7)

This high security shred style practically turns the paper into dust. The resulting shreds are so miniscule that it's impossible to reassemble even a tiny portion of the original document. This cut style is designed for top secret government and military documents. This highly secure shred style is the standard for government organizations that require the highest level of privacy and protection.

Shreds per page: 15,600