I have copied some of this information below from the Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fourth Edition.
I believe this information to be close to accurate but limited in its explanation.
First my version:
Microfiche - A transparent flat rectangular sheet of microfilm, of dimensions 105 mm X 148 mm or other dimensions e.g. 3 x 5 inches or 4 x 6 inches plus, having a number of micro images arranged in a grid pattern in horizontal rows and vertical columns. It usually contains a title which can be read without magnification by an external device. The word 'microfiche' is used both as singular and plural. SOURCE - Based on the Australian Standard 2422-1981 plus some of my own additional input.
Microfiche are used for the publication of reports, technical memoranda and similar documents to fulfil the increasing need for recording a greater number of pages on a single sheet of film. The aim has been to make provision for 60-frame and 98-frame formats suitable for documents to the A series as specified in ISO 216, Writing paper and certain classes of Printed Matter - Trimmed Sizes A and B series.
SOURCE - Australian Standard 1988-1977.
Microfiche can be a product from a Computer Output Device producing COM Microfiche at various reduction ratios but usually 24, 42, 48 and 72X = times reductions from digital data.
Microfiche are also produced by Step and Repeat Cameras from hard copy originals American, 8 1/2 X 11 inch or metric 210 mm X 297 mm A4 size paper to American, 11 X 17 inch or metric 297 mm X 420 mm A3 size at 24x or other low reduction rations. Other higher reductions of 42X and 48X and in some limited cases at 72X reduction are used to cram more images onto the 105 mm x 148 mm sheet film. The Australian Standard and I believe the International and US Standard only suggest filming on Step and Repeat cameras at a maximum of a 24X reduction for A4 and A3 size documentation.
There are larger format Step and Repeat Cameras specifically designed for large format documentation such as drawings, maps and plans up to metric A0 size at 941 mm X 1189 mm or American, E size drawings.
Microfilm Cameras for the production of roll film can usually do any of the things Step and Repeat Cameras can perform but with an output onto roll film 16 or 35 mm in width by 30.3 metre or 100 foot in length rather than 105 mm x 148 mm sheet film. Step and Repeat Cameras and COM units also work from 105 mm rolls of film either in lengths of 1,000 or 2,000 foot rolls.
fiche n. See microfiche.
microfiche n. A small sheet of film, about 4 by 6 inches, used for recording photographically reduced images, such as document pages, in rows and columns forming a grid pattern. The resulting images are too small to read with the naked eye, and a microfiche reader is required to view the documents.
microfilm n. A thin strip of film stored on a roll and used to record sequential data images. As with microfiche, a special device magnifies the images so that they can be read. See also CIM (definition 2), COM (definition 4).
microform n. The medium, such as microfilm or microfiche, on which a photographically reduced image, called a micro image, is stored. A micro image usually represents text, such as archived documents. See also microfiche, microfilm.
micrographics n. The techniques and methods for recording data on microfilm. See also microform.
micro image n. A photographically reduced image, usually stored on microfilm or microfiche that is too small to be read without magnification. See also microform, micrographics.
Laurie Varendorff ARMA
Laurie Varendorff, ARMA, a former RMAA Western Australia Branch president and national director, has been involved in records management for 30 years. He has his own consulting and training business near Perth, Western Australia, and has tutored in recordkeeping and archival storage and preservation at Perth’s Edith Cowan University. Phone: +61 (0)8 9291 6925; mobile: 0417 094 147; email @ Laurie Varendorff
SPECIAL NOTE: Use of this article by publishers, commercial, government, or educational organisations requires a financial agreement to negotiated with Laurie as the copyright holder for this work.