Posted by: AG | November 14, 2009

Basic Facts about Paper


The last time I wrote about papers I gave you just a basic introduction to the topic. When the printer’s delivery truck unloads your printed materials at your company’s front door, they’ll basically be delivering paper – with a bit of ink added. And as I mentioned, paper alone can equal up to half of the total cost of your printing. The point is this: the more you know about it the better, as it’s the easiest way to start chipping away at keeping your printing expenses down.Papers have different characteristics – you might even call them “personalities.” Your goal is to match the artwork you’re printing to the ideal paper personality. Together they will get your printed message across to your live audience of readers.

So what is there you need to know about paper in order to feel like an informed print buyer? That will depend on your company’s general printing needs. One way to start thinking about this is to simply imagine you’ve just delivered a file of your company’s artwork to the printer’s facility. If this were the first time you’ve printed this job, meaning it’s not a “rerun” of a previous job, you’d no doubt also have some dummy copies that you printed and folded at your office to show how it should look when it’s finished. You will then be asked a vital question: what kind of paper do you want this printed on?

What would your answer be? If you didn’t have a clue and could only shrug your shoulders, I can safely assume two things: you’ll most like pay more than you need to and will get less than an ideal printed piece. On the other hand, if you knew the basics about the kind of paper you want, you will get a superior product at less cost. That’s not a bad deal for learning some basic facts. So let’s get started.

An early 20th century paper mill

An early 20th century paper mill

Paper basics

One main characteristic, or quality, of paper is called its weight. To the average print buyer, the weight of a paper is seen and felt in its thickness. If you had different weights of the exact same paper, the one that felt the thickest would also be the heaviest, and the others would therefore be lighter. So right off the bat, in trying to learn some basic facts about paper, you’re confronted by confusion – it’s not normal to refer to thickness and thinness as heavy or light. And like every industry, the common terms used are derived from measuring methods that are not obvious. Paper is no exception.

All papers have both and weight and a size. The weight of a paper is arrived at by weighing 500 sheets at a basic size. And each kind of paper, such as bond, book, cover, newsprint, all have a different basic size. The basic size of bond paper, for instance, is 17” x 22.” Therefore, 24 lb. bond paper – its weight – is based on the fact that 500 sheets in its basic size will weigh 24 pounds.

When you’re at the office supply store buying a box of paper, you’ll always notice a weight written on the box. A common copier paper is 20 lb. bond. If you had a choice between 20 lb. and 24 lb. bond paper, you will be paying a bit more for the 24 lb. (heavier) paper and you’ll be getting a paper that’s about 20% thicker, 20% more opaque, and 20% stronger. That’s simply because 24 is 20% more than 20.

Before I start getting into more qualities of paper, it’s time for a self test to make sure you got this part clear in your mind.

A 24 lb. bond paper is the same thickness as 60 lb. book paper. They will feel and look very similar. Question: Why the different numbers for weight when they seem identical?
Modern paper mill

Modern paper mill








  1. I want to know more about modern paper making machines wich are small and not expwnsive in maintanance

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