Compare and Understand Paper Weights and Thickness

By Chris Mullen, June 26, 2017

Paper

Paper weight is confusing. Our company describes the paper weights we’ve selected, but different print companies and manufactures often use unfamiliar terminology and support varying paper types and paper weights. How does it all compare to each other? That’s what we will hopefully answer in this article with the below paper comparison chart (as far as thickness goes).

The first thing to understand is this: There are a few common methods for measuring paper weight and thickness: U.S. Basis Weight (Bond, Book, Index, Cover, Tag, Points, Offset ), Metric weight (GSM or G/m2) and, often interchangeable, Points or Mils (an actual Caliper reading of the paper thickness).

The U.S. Basis (not basic) Weights, are the most confusing since the same paper can yield different values based on the “Basis Weight” applied while manufacturing the paper. And higher values don’t always equate to heavier/thicker print media. For example, a sheet of 100# Text paper is actually much thinner than an 80# Cover stock. You can learn more about the process paper manufacturers use to determine paper weight at okidata.com. For smaller formats of printing like brochures, postcards, flyers and posters, the U.S Basis Weights system is what you will see most often.

Adding to all the confusion, print companies, retailers, advertising agencies, large corporations and manufacturers often use varying terminology for weight across product lines. The five main categories of paper weights most commonly seen on offset and digital printing websites are: BOND, TEXT, COVER, INDEX and POINT. Others include book, bristol, tag and offset.

  1. Text papers are thicker than standard ledger and copy paper, but are not as thick as cover papers.
  2. Cover is generally used to describe thicker paper stocks utilized for cards like business cards, postcards, invitations and greeting cards.
  3. Bond papers are light-weight and is also known as ledger or writing paper.
  4. Index paper is a stiff paper, but not card stock.
  5. Specialty media is often specified in Points or 1/1000 of an inch. Media that measures 0.012 inches thick would be marked as 12-point media.

Now, to easily compare the paper weights, use the below chart to help you gauge thickness especially when comparing prices among printers. However, paper weight should not be used to gauge paper quality.

 

Bond (Ledger) Text (Book) Cover (Card) Index Pt
24lb 60lb 33lb 50lb 4.8
28 70 39 58 5.8
29 73 40 60 6
31 81 45 66 6.1
35 90 48 74 6.2
36 90 50 75 6.8
39 100 54 81 7.2
40 100 56 83 7.3
43 110 60 90 7.4
44 110 61 92 7.6
47 120 65 97 8
53 135 74 110 9
54 137 75 113 9
58 146 80 120 9.5
65 165 90 135 10
67 170 93 140 10.5
72 183 100 150 11
76 192 105 158 13
80 200 110 165 14
82 208 114 170 14
87 220 120 180 16
105 267 146 220 18

The values in the above table shown are intended to serve as a guide only. Similar weight papers may (and will) vary between different manufacturers.

If you have any questions about paper weight, please feel free to contact us.