UNDERSTANDING PAPER WEIGHTS
Designers take great care in selecting the fonts, words, colors and images for a project. Nothing is done without purpose because we know that the choices we make for your project make the difference between a job done and a job done well.
The paper you select for your project is just as important as what’s on it. It conveys a specific message to your audience through the look, thickness, and texture. Therefore, paper should be selected carefully so that it matches the tone and mood of your message, optimizes the appearance of your graphics, and has tactile appeal to the desired audience.
Choosing the correct weight can be a confusing decision. You cannot accurately refer to a paper only using the lb. (#) description. You must know what basis weight description a paper has in order to know if it is a lightweight (i.e. text) or heavyweight (i.e. cover) paper. You can know that 80 lb. text is a lighter sheet than 80 lb. cover, but simply stated as 80 lb. you can’t know the paper’s weight. Common basis weight descriptions/categories are: bond, writing, text, cover, index and tag.
AN EXPLANATION OF BASIS WEIGHT CATEGORIES
Now that you know basis weight descriptions matter, what’s the differences between categories? Mills tend to assign a designation based on history and intended use. Here’s a short explanation of each of the categories we’ve mentioned.
The lightest weight paper and includes translucent and opaque bond papers. Opaque bonds are traditionally used for airmail, letterhead, business forms and copy paper. Translucent bond is traditionally used for envelopes, fly sheets and belly bands.
Office copy paper is commonly 20 lb. bond
The most common translucent envelopes are made from 29 lb. bond.
Lighter weight and is traditionally used for writing applications like letterhead, business correspondence, resumes and personal stationery. The most common Writing weights range from 20 lb. to 28 lb. Writing.
The most common weight for stationery is 24 lb. Writing
Light to medium weight and is traditionally used as the inner “text” pages of a brochure or report. Text paper will fold easily to make a brochure or serve as a flyer. The most common Text weights range from 60 lb. to 100 lb. Text.
The most common weight for a quality envelope is 70 lb. Text.
Heavier weight and is traditionally used in conjunction with matching colored text papers as a cover to a brochure or report, or it’s used on its own for business cards, greeting cards and invitations. Cover paper from 60 to 75 lb. will fold well without scoring. The most common Cover weights range from 60 lb. to 200 lb. Cover and 8 pt. to 12 pt.
The most common business card and greeting card weight is 80 lb. Cover and 10 pt. Cover.
Known for its stiffness and receptivity to writing ink and is commonly used when a stiff, inexpensive paper is required.
Utility sheet, traditionally used for manufacturing tags. It has good bending, folding, tearing and water resistance qualities and its surface is suitable for printing, stamping or writing.
Sometimes, categories tend to overlap so papers can have different weight descriptions but essentially be the same weight per sheet. The chart below, from ThePaperMillStore.com, is a great tool to help illustrate how those categories overlap so that consumers can understand paper weights properly.