Free-standing paper-like or foil-like materials are an integral part of our technological society. Their uses include protective layers, chemical filters, components of electrical batteries or supercapacitors, adhesive layers, electronic or optoelectronic components, and molecular storage. Inorganic 'paper-like' materials based on nanoscale components such as exfoliated vermiculite or mica platelets have been intensively studied and commercialized as protective coatings, high-temperature binders, dielectric barriers and gas-impermeable membranes. Carbon-based flexible graphite foils composed of stacked platelets of expanded graphite have long been used in packing and gasketing applications because of their chemical resistivity against most media, superior sealability over a wide temperature range, and impermeability to fluids. The discovery of carbon nanotubes brought about bucky paper, which displays excellent mechanical and electrical properties that make it potentially suitable for fuel cell and structural composite applications. Here we report the preparation and characterization of graphene oxide paper, a free-standing carbon-based membrane material made by flow-directed assembly of individual graphene oxide sheets. This new material outperforms many other paper-like materials in stiffness and strength. Its combination of macroscopic flexibility and stiffness is a result of a unique interlocking-tile arrangement of the nanoscale graphene oxide sheets.