Paper has become the most widely used material in the world, out of all the materials that have been used throughout history. In fact, the United States alone consumes approximately 70 million tonnes of it per year1! But could you tell the difference between the various types, thicknesses, and weights of copier paper and cardstock paper? Most likely not. 

Specifying Paper Weights 

When printing, paper weight is an important factor to consider. Heavier media frequently conveys quality and durability. Unfortunately, sorting through the various methods of labelling the weight of paper is not always simple. To begin, there are three common methods for specifying paper weight and thickness: US Basis Weight (Bond, Book, Index, Cover, Tag, Points, Offset), Metric Weight (GSM or G/m2), and Points or Mils, which are often interchangeable (an actual Caliper reading of the paper thickness). 

The “Basis Weight” is defined as the weight of 500 sheets of paper in its basic unit uncut size, which means the paper is weighed and classified before being cut to Letter or Legal size. The most common sizes are Bond, Text, Book, Cover, Index, and Tag, which you may be familiar with. Uncut Bond paper measures 17 x 22 inches, while uncut Cover paper measures 20 x 26 inches. If 500 sheets of Bond paper (17 x 22 inches) weigh 20 pounds, a ream of paper cut to Letter size will also be labelled as 20 pounds. If 500 sheets of Cover paper (20 x 26 inches) weigh 65 pounds, a ream of this paper trimmed to tabloid size will be labelled as 65lb. This may seem like a lot to take in, but don’t be discouraged! Professional printers frequently fail to keep track of all possible permutations. They have a pretty good idea of what to expect when reaching for a 24lb Bond versus a 60lb Cover versus a 110lb Index based on experience with a small subset. 

Each medium frequently serves a specific purpose. The basic descriptions and “real-world” examples of the core print media applications are provided below. Place your cursor over each image to see a brief description of each paper type. 

Fortunately, a metric measurement is almost always displayed alongside the US Basis Weight. The metric measurement (also known as grammage) is the weight of one sheet of media cut to 1 x 1 metre square. Because the same size sheet is always weighed, GSM (grammes per square metre) provides a more consistent scale for judging the weight and thickness of paper. 

Finally, you can always use a calliper to determine the thickness of a sheet of paper. Points or 1/1000 of an inch are frequently used to specify specialty media. 12-point media is defined as media that is 0.012 inches thick. 

MPC3503 ( rent & purchase ) (5)
MPC3503 ( rent & purchase ) (6)
previous arrow
next arrow