Last edited 17 Nov 2019


The work 'portfolio' is thought to be derived from the Italian 'portare' meaning ‘carry’ and 'foglio' menaing ‘leaf’. In this sense, a portfolio is a large, thin, portable case used to store and carry drawings, paintings and other loose papers. It usually comprises two identical halves, usually made of plastic or leather, that are zipped together. A handle ensures it can be easily carried around. In size, portfolios as cases can range from A1 to A4.

However, the term portfolio can also be used more widely to refer to a collection:

  • A student of architecture or qualified architect may be asked to bring their portfolio of work to a job interview. The portfolio will usually include a selection of drawings or projects completed by the applicant over a period of time which represents their design skills and abilities. Or, a writer or journalist may be asked to show a portfolio of their writings and articles.
  • In another sense, the term portfolio can be used to signify a grouping of financial assets held by an investor. Their portfolio may comprise shares, stocks, currencies or bonds, or all of them.
  • Alternatively, a rental landlord may have a portfolio of properties, a developer may have a portfolio of projects and so on.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again