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Paper Weights What Do They Mean

During my nearly 25 years of selling stationery, the question I get asked most frequently is: "What weight is the paper?" The question seems simple, yet the answer can be confusing. The hard part of it all is comparing oranges to oranges. I plan on simplifying the whole discussion by only talking about the types of paper useful to the average person printing at home. Different types of paper will weigh different amounts. A printer may imply that other printers using 20# paper are supplying inferior products compared to the 50# offset that he will use. But bonds of 20# and 50# are the same for most purposes.

Most of the more technical information concerning types and weights is of value only to a commercial printer. A few basic guidelines should satisfy the ordinary person's desktop publishing requirements. You can find desktop publishing paper, so-called designer stationary, in both bond and cover weights. The term "Bond Paper" is, by itself, confusing. I will try to clarify that later.

Anyway, the normal consumer isn't generally interested in the different types of paper. Offset, Tag, and Index are usually only an issue if you have a printer doing your job. Cut size sheets are typically not available for these papers. If you want to print invitations yourself on paper you buy, your only choices are cover and bond weights. In bonds you can get weights of 20# to 32#, but cover is generally available only in 65#.

The following chart is very useful when you want to compare the different weights. Paper Weight Equivalents Bond/Writing -- Text/Offset ------- Cover 20 lb ------------ 50 lb ------------- 28 lb 24 lb ------------ 60 lb ------------- 34 lb 28 lb ------------ 70 lb ------------- 38 lb 32 lb ------------ 80 lb ------------- 44 lb 40 lb ------------ 100 lb ------------ 56 lb 43 lb ------------ 110 lb ------------ 62 lb 47 lb ------------ 120 lb ------------ 65 lb This chart lists the equivalent weights. Equivalent weights make it simple to compare different types of papers with different basis weights.

The basis weight of paper is how much 500 sheets of a paper's parent sheet size weighs in pounds. All papers do not have the same sheet size. Bond Paper is defined in the dictionary as follows: 1) Paper made at least partially from rags, used to print bank notes and bonds.

2) Superior, strong paper used to print letterheads and other important documents. Packs of 25 or 100 sheets are most common when buying special papers. Papers with a design printed on them are referred to as designer stationery.

Using your home or office printer or copier, you can personalize them. This paper can be used in any copier, either laser or inkjet. 65# cover weight paper is what most people usually refer to as cardstock.

This paper is generally sold to consumers as post cards, business cards, or in sheet reams. The majority of invitations that can be printed at home are 65# cover. By removing some of the technical terms, the topic really does become simplified. So, it should start to make sense when you think about the paper weight equivalents the next time you're shopping.

John Oberhauser, the manager of The Image Shop that carries paper of all kinds from printable letterhead to border design paper. Well-versed in paper weights, he knows the weight of each ream of Letterhead Stationery, certificate paper, Letterhead Designs, and theme paper. So he wants to see his customers get the very best.

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