Paper Lesson

February 13, 2012 / Updated: February 13, 2012 / Lena Shore
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Over the weekend I was cleaning out my office and found this great little cheat sheet I created years ago for understanding paper types as explained by one of my printing mentors, Jon Anderson.

Paper weight

The weight of a paper is determined by how much a ream (500 sheets) weighs in the basis size. The basis size is the size it is produced at the mill.

Paper types


  • Typical weight: 20lb
  • Basis size: 17″ x 22″
  • Qualities: Good for writing and erasing


  • Typical weight: 50lb
  • Basis size: 25″ x 38″
  • Qualities: Made for stability with water; Comes in coated or uncoated. Created about 80 years ago


  • Typical weights: 65lb, 80lb
  • Basis size: 26″ x 40″
  • Qualities: Fluffier or bulkier


  • Typical weight: 90lb, 110lb, 140lb
  • Basis size: 22.5″ x 28.5″
  • Qualities: Calendar (or mashed), easy to erase


  • Typical weight: 22lb and 28lb
  • Qualities: High calendar, easy to erase