Paper Weight

The Printing industry has a language all its own for paper – that is why paper weight can be puzzling.

Let’s break it down… there are two “weight classes” of paper: Text Weight (also called Book) and Cover Weight. Paper weight refers to the thickness and stiffness of the paper. The term “Weight” comes into play as commercial printers measure the weight of 500 parent sheets. The size of the parent sheet from the mill can vary for each type of paper. As an example, 20# bond has a 17’’ x 22’’ parent sheet size, and if you weigh 500 sheets it will weigh 20 pounds. 65# offset has a 26’’ x 40’’ parent sheet size, and 500 sheets weighs 65 pounds.
Determining the best paper for your project can be confusing because a number of various types of paper have equal weights, yet their designations make them sound very different. For instance, 20# bond is an equivalent weight to 50# offset. The 50# sounds as if it should be heavier and thicker, but offset paper has a much larger parent size than its bond counterpart, which is why its weight designation only sounds heavier. In reality, the thickness of these two sheets is nearly identical.

Text is lightweight paper that is used for materials such as: flyers, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, and magazines.

Text Weight thickness’ are:

  • 20# (or 50#): Regular Copy paper – most economical
  • 24# (or 60#): Letterhead – heavier, smoother finish, less show through
  • 28# (or 70#): Color copy paper – heaviest, best for color, no show through
  • 32# (or 80#): Color copy paper – extra heavy, best for color, no show through

Cover stock is heavy weight paper used for materials such as: business cards, invitations, postcards, posters and program covers.  It comes in many different weights, below are a few of them:

  • 65# Offset – thinnest, uncoated
  • 10 pt. or 80# Coated or Uncoated – thin
  • 12 pt. or 100# Coated or Uncoated – standard card stock
  • 111# Coated or Uncoated – heavier
  • 14 pt. or 130# Coated or Uncoated – very heavy
  • 16pt, 18pt, and 24pt also available.

Cover weight paper has to be scored if it needs to be folded.  Scoring will insure a cleaner fold.
Hopefully this makes your life a bit easier when deciding what paper weight to use on your next project.

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