Paper Weights Explained

Paper weights are confusing! One of the most headscratching aspects of paper weights is many different ways paper weight can be specified. The confusion goes back to the old days of paper making, with different descriptions given to how the paper might be used. "Bond" was often used to describe writing stock, i.e. letterhead. The weight assigned to specify the heft of the paper was done by weighing a "ream" (500 sheets) of paper at the standard size (17" x 22").  Text paper used for printing books has a different standard size (25" x 38"), hence a ream of text paper weighs more than a ream of bond paper -- even though they might have equivalent thickness (caliper).  For simplicity's sake, we're only going to discuss bond, text, metric, cover, and caliper. These units all describe the weight of paper in different ways.

  • Bond Weight - the weight, in pounds, of 500 sheets of 17" x 22" bond paper
  • Text Weight - 25" x 38" offset press sheet
  • Metric Weight - the weight of one sheet of paper measured in grams per square meter. 
  • Cover Weight - the weight of 500 sheets of 20" x 26" cover paper
  • Caliper - the thickness of a particular sheet. One point equals 1/1000th of an inch.

We compiled a table of these different units to make life easier for you. These values are for reference only, they should not be used as specifications due to variances within the same basis weight due to differences between paper composition, finishes, gloss or matt coated and manufacturers. 

Comparative Paper Base Weights (Uncoated)

Bond

Text

 Cover

Metric

Caliper

20#

50#

 

75gsm

3.9

24#

60#

 

90gsm

4.6

28#

70#

 

105gsm

5.3

32#

80#

 

120gsm

5.9

40#

100#

 

150gsm

7.1

  80#180gsm8 point
  100#200gsm10 point
  120#250gsm12 point
  140#300gsm14 point