For nearly four decades 2-furfural (2-FAL) in transformer oil has been used as a chemical marker to indicate the ageing state of transformer paper insulation. Nevertheless, it has always been a challenge to define an acceptable limit for 2-FAL due to issues related to non-uniform temperature distribution in transformers, stability of 2-FAL in oil and its partitioning between liquid and solid insulation. Therefore, transformer users try to combine the laboratory findings, the operational experience and post-mortem analyses together for predicting ageing state of paper insulation through 2-FAL content in oil. Due to increase in the use of ester liquids in transformers, there is a need to investigate the ability to use 2-FAL as a paper ageing indicator for ester based insulation systems. Laboratory ageing studies have shown that 2-FAL is indeed generated in ester based insulation systems. However, there is a lack of understanding related to the partitioning of 2-FAL in ester based insulation systems. This paper studies the partitioning of 2-FAL in synthetic ester based insulation systems and compares to that in mineral oil based insulation systems with the focus on the effect of paper type and water content in paper. Under the investigated conditions the synthetic ester had higher partitioning coefficients (ratio between the 2-FAL content in oil and paper) than the mineral oil. Partitioning coefficients in both oil types decreased with the increase of the water content in paper. However, change in paper type did not significantly affect the partitioning coefficients in this study.