Understanding Paper Weights

By Nicole Tinkham


We know what you’re thinking. How could you write a blog about heavy, decorative objects used to hold papers down? The short answer is we’re not (at least for now). When we speak about paper weight, we’re actually referring to the different weights (thickness & sturdiness) of paper. Because there are so many different paper options (copy paper, index, bristol, and cover), each paper weight is measured differently. You would think the higher the poundage, the heavier the paper. That’s where everything gets a bit more confusing. Since these are all measured differently, it can be helpful to look at the GSM, or grams per square meter. This will give you the actual weight of the paper. Below is a chart to help you differentiate the various types of paper and choose the appropriate weight. Is your head spinning yet?

Type lb GSM Description
Copy paper 20lb 74 This paper is used in everyday copy machines.
*This paper is also known as 50lb text, which has the same GSM
Copy paper 24lb 90 This is a multipurpose paper often used in office printers and as business letterheads and stationary.
*This paper is also known as 60lb text, which has the same GSM
Copy paper 28lb 105 This paper is great for brochures and double sided printing.
*This paper is also known as 70lb text, which has the same GSM
Copy paper 32lb 120 Like the 28lb copy paper, this one is also great for brochures and double sided printing. This one is slightly heavier than the 28lb though.
*This paper is also known as 80lb text, which has the same GSM
Bristol 67lb 145 Bristol is the lightest of cardstocks, making it perfect for mailers. It’s flexible, soft, and offers a quick drying time.
Index 90lb 165 This cardstock has a smooth, hard texture great for medium applications.
Cover 65lb 175 This paper has a very soft and quick drying surface. It’s often used for postcards and posters.
Index 110lb 200 This index is similar to the 90lb index in that it’s a common weight for tabs and manila folders. The 110lb index is slightly heavier though.
Cover 80lb 215 This heavy cardstock is an appropriate weight for business cards and it comes in a variety of textures.
Index 140lb 255 This is a super heavy cardstock!
Cover 100lb 260 This is an even heavier cardstock used for invitations and flat cards.

Next time you plan on purchasing paper (especially a heavier specialty paper) it’s a good idea to reference this chart first so you know exactly what you need. We mentioned looking at the GSM for the actual weight of the paper but that can sometimes be difficult to find on a ream of paper. If you’re still unsure what the weight of paper means, feel free to stop in or give us a call (941-747-2995). We’re always happy to answer any paper questions you may have or help you compare different options!

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