Transfer leaf is leaf that is lightly pressed to a backing sheet of paper. This can be removed from the booklet by hand as the paper is larger than the size of the leaf. Transfer leaf is pressed face down onto the sized surface and the backing paper is rubbed over with slight pressure to release the gold onto the surface. Transfer leaf is usually used for flatter surfaces and outdoor gilding and is easier to handle than loose leaf.
Loose leaf is leaf that sits loosely within the booklet on slightly rouged paper. It is usually used to gild intricate areas or areas that are heavily carved / moulded. It cannot be handled and has to be picked up from the booklet using a gilders brush and either transferred to the gilders cushion to be cut to the required size or transferred by brush directly to the sized surface of the item to be gilded.