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What Are the Differences Between a Padfolio and Portfolio?

Gianna Petan

Published: June 7th 2022

Whether you're a student, artist, or CEO, chances are you can find a good use for either a padfolio or a portfolio. While the names are similar, there are several differences between the two accessories. So, which one has what you need to stay organized and look professional?

Learn what features set a padfolio and a portfolio apart, what features make them similar, and which one you should choose!

What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio closely resembles a briefcase. Usually, a portfolio will have a handle for easy carrying and come in a variety of sizes, including extra-large for artists carrying paintings or sketches. In addition to a handle, a portfolio can even come with a cross-body strap.  

What Should I Keep in My Portfolio?

When you take your portfolio on-the-go, there are a few essentials you might want to keep inside:

portfolio 1 portfolio 2 portfolio 3

What is a Padfolio?

Padfolios are smaller than portfolios and are designed to fit inside a briefcase or bag, or be carried under the arm. They are most commonly letter size or legal size, and can be closed with a zipper, buckle, or snap. The thin, lightweight design makes padfolios perfect for attending an interview or going to a lunch meeting.  

Stay organized by keeping the smaller necessities on-hand in your padfolio such as the following:

What Should I Keep in My Padfolio?

Padfolio 1 Padfolio 2 Padfolio 3

How Are a Padfolio and a Portfolio Similar?

Despite their differences, a padfolio and a portfolio are designed to help you keep the essentials like papers, USB drives, and writing utensils organized. While capacity is one major difference, there are similarities these two accessories share that make them useful and versatile.

  • Can be made with leather, leather substitute, or polypropylene
  • Includes a zipper enclosure
  • Ample space for storing documents, pens, and tech items
  • Pockets for ID cards
  • Front and interior pockets
Padfolio with coffee cup

If you had to pack up the most important items in your office to take on-the-go, chances are a padfolio or a portfolio can do the trick! Both accessories are designed to hold the items you need most for meetings, interviews, or conventions. They also make great corporate gifts for clients or employees.

Padfolio with coffee cup

If you had to pack up the most important items in your office to take on-the-go, chances are a padfolio or a portfolio can do the trick! Both accessories are designed to hold the items you need most for meetings, interviews, or conventions. They also make great corporate gifts for clients or employees.

Padfolio vs. Portfolio: What is the Difference?

They look similar, the words sound similar, but a padfolio and a portfolio are very different accessories. A padfolio is best for taking notes, organizing a few papers, and using around the office. A portfolio, on the other hand, has a handle and is designed for travelling or attending out-of-office meetings and events.

Infographic for mobile Infographic for desktop


  • Meant to carry under the arm or in a bag
  • Fits small tablets
  • Letter or legal size
  • Closes with a zipper, strap, or buckle
  • Does not have handles
  • Slim and lightweight


  • Has a handle or carrying strap
  • Similar in size to a briefcase
  • Fits laptops
  • Only zips closed
  • Contains file dividers
  • Best for travel
  • Includes more pockets and organization solutions

You can see there are key differences between a padfolio and a portfolio that might make one better for you than the other. Consider what you plan to use one for to help you decide which one has the features you need more.

What Should You Use a Padfolio For?

A padfolio is a slim, lightweight accessory that has storage options for smaller items you need to take with you. If you have a padfolio, you can use it for the following situations:

Shaking hands


Look professional when meeting a potential employer with a padfolio in hand. Keep your resume safely inside where it won't get crinkled or stained.



Keep meeting notes organized inside your padfolio! If you have your own announcements or presentation, write it down so you don't forget, and have a pen handy to write down other upcoming dates or events.

Shaking hands

Taking Notes

Taking notes is essential to making sure you remember important information. Whether it's in class or at work, a padfolio gives you a hard surface to write on and keeps the pages flat and clean to refer back to later.



When you give a presentation, you'll want to have your key points prepared. You might even have a handout for attendees. Keep all the essentials inside your padfolio to help you rock the next presentation!

Whatever you decide to use a padfolio for, keep your belongings organized so you can find what you need when you need it!

What Should You Use a Portfolio for?

A portfolio is the perfect on-the-go accessory for when you don't quite need a full briefcase, but a padfolio isn't big enough. Use your portfolio for the following situations:

Plane taking off


Traveling for business or pleasure can be a hassle. A portfolio will keep all your necessities with you, so you don't have to worry about leaving something in a checked bag. You can also keep any stuff you might need to work on with you while you wait for your flight.


Going to Class

Backpacks can be heavy and bulky, but a portfolio is sleek and lightweight! Simply slide your laptop inside and wear the portfolio over your shoulder on your way to class.

Wrapped gift

Client Gift

A portfolio makes a practical gift for your clients, or even your employees. Pair it with a gift card or sweet treat to show your appreciation for the people you work with. Add your company logo to the portfolio for a personalized touch.

Public transportation

Going to Work

The morning commute is a perfect time to get caught up on emails or missed calls. Keep your portfolio with you on the bus, train, or cab to get some quick work done early in the morning.

If you're constantly on the move, a portfolio is the best accessory to have to keep everything you need at arm's reach! Wherever you are, you'll be prepared to get work done or stay entertained on a flight delay.

Man thinking

Should You Get a Padfolio or Portfolio?

The decision between needing a padfolio or a portfolio is straightforward. If you travel, carry a laptop, and need ample space for files and notes then a portfolio is your best choice. Artists might want a portfolio because they can be large enough to fit work that is larger than letter size paper.

Those who only need to carry a few essentials to a presentation or conference can get away with using a padfolio instead. Padfolios are also great for realtors going to a closing, or students attending a job interview for the first time.

If your job requires a bit of everything, you can always keep one of each accessory on hand for when you might need it.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the differences between padfolios and portfolios come down to space and their uses. Because of their size difference, they each have a specific purpose whether it be for travel or a local networking event. Choose the right one for you, and look like a professional everywhere you go!

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Gianna Patan

Gianna Patan

Gianna is no stranger to promo products. Her background in research-based writing, linguistics, and advertising gives her an edge in blogging about the marketing industry.