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portfolio and padfolio

Differences Between a Padfolio and Portfolio

Want to get rid of your smelly old briefcase but do not know exactly where to place your bets? Want to place yourself in the middle of the great debate between portfolio vs padfolio? What are the differences between the two anyhow?

All this and more today as we explore just what portfolios and padfolios are alongside some of the key differences between them.

What is a Portfolio?

So, in the former corner of the debate between a portfolio vs padfolio, we have the portfolio.

A portfolio is essentially a derivative form of a briefcase. Owing to the presence of handles, a portfolio can very often take on the physical appearance of a small briefcase, though providing ample space for office supplies on, say, a business trip (post-it notes for example).

A portfolio will usually feature a zipper to keep everything ready for a business meeting without it falling out all over the place. Despite the smaller size and the zipper closure, there is still plenty of space for all office items and even a small tablet if you are this way inclined (the business world of the moment often is).

You can have a custom portfolio so that it reaks of you as much as possible. If leather is more your thing, then you can have a leather portfolio. If you feel you need more pockets, then you can have as many as you would like.

These can be more or less as small or large as you want them to be - they could even be letter size, though this would scarcely be a briefcase anymore. This is one of the best travel bags for work out there.

What is a Padfolio?

So, now we can reverse the debate and address the former side of the padfolio vs portfolio argument.

Unlike a portfolio, a padfolio will typically not feature a zipper. Instead, a padfolio will usually use buckles to fasten it together and secure the contents into place.

This is one of the key differences and distinguishing factors that set the two apart, though it has some perhaps unforeseen consequences.

For one, a padfolio is going to allow you to store more papers than a portfolio might. As a result of the buckle mechanism, you can fit a larger and thicker wad of paper inside, customizing the inner space with the buckles instead of being limited by a zip.

This means that, yes, a legal pad can easily fit in alongside other things. The legal size of a large legal notepad is notoriously thick and wieldy, so for it to be able to fit is really an achievement.

This is why the padfolio has its name. It is perfectly suited for bearing pads of this kind so that they can be transported around alongside other necessary items.

portfolio vs padfolio

What is the Difference, then?

The central difference between a padfolio vs portfolio typically resides on the inside. Portfolios generally afford enough space for just about anything you need, making space on the opposite side for stationary, file dividers, or smaller jotting pads, all in a minimalistic design.

Padfolios, on the other hand, are derivatives of the portfolio, a little ironic seeing as portfolios are generally derivatives of the briefcase. Thus, just as the portfolio was built to be a slightly more streamlined version of the briefcase, the padfolio is intended to be a smaller and more streamlined version of a portfolio.

Much like portfolios, padfolios are divided into two separate sides, one which holds a large legal notepad and another which can house smaller things - e.g. power banks or other similar materials.

Despite the fact that a padfolio is even more streamlined than a portfolio - and thus technically has less space inside - it can also afford to offer more space. This is due to the buckle mechanism. Where a portfolio's inner space will be limited by the zips that keep it all together, the padfolio is free to do whatever it pleases within the bounds of the buckling mechanism.

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Final Words

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are feeling better able to discern the difference between padfolios and portfolios so that you can go out into the world and purchase your own.

FAQs Portfolio vs Padfolio


The main difference lies in the size and the inner space of each. A portfolio is a more streamlined version of a briefcase, one that often does not even feature handles or shoulder straps. A padfolio, on the other hand, is simply a more streamlined version of a portfolio. In practice, this means that there is less space theoretically within. However, padfolios tend to have a buckle instead of a zipper, meaning that there is more space than previously thought. What goes within the padfolio can, thus, afford to be dense and thick.


A padfolio is a kind of bag or accessory that is tasked with holding important office items. They are often called upon to do what a briefcase does, simply in a more streamlined manner. Where a portfolio is a streamlined version of a briefcase, a padfolio is a streamlined version of a portfolio. Often, people will use a padfolio to contain and transport wads of paper and other useful items for office work.


In essence, a portfolio is simply a more streamlined version of a briefcase. Where a briefcase will usually sport handles and even a shoulder strap in some instances, a portfolio will usually do away with both these amenities. In this way, they are usually held in the hand and transported from place to place while clutched to the breast (or otherwise kept in a larger holdall bag or backpack - keeping in line with modern office-work developments). Another key difference is that a portfolio tends to use a zipper mechanism to keep everything within, whereas a briefcase is likely to use a click mechanism.

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