Grading is strictly in accordance with International Bank Note Society standards except that a + after a grade indicates the note is midway between the assigned grade and the next highest grade.
Uncirculated (UNC) - A perfectly preserved note, never mishandled by the issuing authority, a bank teller, the public or a collector. Paper is clean and firm, without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square, without any evidence of rounding. An uncirculated note will have its original natural sheen.
About Uncirculated (AU) - A virtually perfect note, with some minor handling. May show evidence of bank counting folds at a corner or one light fold through the center, but not both. An AU note cannot be creased, a crease being a hard fold which has usually "broken" the surface of the note. Paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners are not rounded.
Extremely Fine (XF) - A very attractive
note with light handling. May have a maximum of three light folds or
one strong crease. Paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners
may show only the slightest evidence of rounding. There may also be
the slightest sign of wear where a fold meets the edge.
Fine (F) - A note which shows considerable circulation with many folds, creases and wrinkling. Paper is not excessively dirty but may have some softness. Edges may show much handling, with minor tears into the border area. Tears may not extend into the design. There will be no center hole because of excessive folding. Colors are clear but not very bright. A staple hole or two would not be considered unusual wear in a Fine note. Overall appearance is still on the desirable side.
Very Good (VG) - A well used note, abused but still intact. Corners may have much wear and rounding, tiny nicks, tears may extend into the design, some discoloration may be present, staining may have occurred, and a small hole may be seen at center from excessive folding. Staple and pinholes are usually present, and the note itself is quite limp but no pieces of the note can be missing. A note in VG condition may still have an overall not unattractive appearance.
Good (G) - A well worn and heavily used note. Normal damage from prolonged circulation will include strong multiple folds and creases, stains, pinholes and/or staple holes, dirt, discoloration, edge tears, center hole, rounded corners and an overall unattractive appearance. No large pieces of the note may be missing. Graffiti is commonly seen on notes in good condition.
Fair (F) and Poor (P) - Notes in such low grades will not be included in my lists so are not described here.