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Paper weight is defined as how heavy 500 sheets of a certain grade of paper are when stacked. Weight is measured in pounds, or lbs., and usually reflects the thickness of sheets, measured in thousandths of an inch. Normally, the greater the weight of a paper grade, the thicker each piece. The thickness of your papers determines how it should be used in printing and for what purpose.
Paper Weight and Thickness Depend on Paper Grade Paper consists of two broad grades, text and cover. Text paper is pliable and includes both bond paper for everyday use and offset paper for book and lithographic applications. Cover paper is more rigid and includes cover, tag stock and index card paper in ascending order of stiffness.
Some paper manufacturers measure the weight of paper by the amount of grams per square inch, or GSM. Regardless of a thickness of a sheet of paper, its GSM paper weight may actually be the same regardless of its pound designation. For example, 20-pound bond paper has the same GSM as 50-pound offset paper. So when choosing paper, always determine the paper grade first. The thickness of that paper in pound weight will then yield a measure of its quality.
The Paper Weights You Need for Everyday Bond Paper Standard bond-grade paper for everyday office or home use comes in 20, 22, 24, 28 and 32-pound weights. Here, the pound designations do determine thickness and quality and the appropriate application.
Standard weight, at 20 pounds, is best for heavy-duty reproduction and general office use. The lighter weight is less prone to jamming in copiers that are spitting out thousands of pages, and it is less expensive for large-scale memos, emailing and report reviewing.
Mid-weights, at 22 and 24 pounds, are best for reproducing presentation documents or printing them on inkjet and laser printers, including double-sided printing. The heavier weight minimizes ink or toner bleed-through and provides a higher quality feel for important customer or office documents.
Heavy-weight paper, at 28 and 32 pounds, carries quality further. Use this paper weight for color printing and for documents that must look their best.
Is There Another Way to Determine Paper Thickness Besides Paper Weight? Yes. If the thickness of paper is a concern, you can determine what you need by considering a paper's points. One paper point is equivalent to .001 of an inch of a sheet's thickness. For instance, 20-pound bond paper has a standard thickness of 3.8 points. A sheet of 28-pound paper has a standard thickness of 5.8 points.
What Should You Know About Cover Stock? Paper manufacturers define cover stock in various ways, although the cover, tag stock and index card designations are useful breakdowns in determining what you might need for business or personal use. Cover-stock paper weights can range between 80 and 140 pounds. Use between 80 and 100-pound weight for the actual covers of reports and business presentations. Use heavier weights, 100 or 120-pound weight, for business cards and displays.
How Should Paper Be Cared For? Regardless of the paper weight of individual packages of paper sheets, you should always prep the paper before feeding it into copiers or printers to minimize jamming or blank sheeting. Before use, take the paper from its storage area and let it acclimate to room temperature for two days. When you remove the paper from its package, fan it to create air between the sheets. Store any unused paper in the original packaging. Staples carries a wide variety of office supplies and back to school supplies that satisfy any need.