The ABC’s of Paper

There are many different paper grades, weights and brands on the market from a variety of mills. Publishers select the type of paper that not only meets their customers’ requirements, but also works well in their machinery.


Many paper size standards and conventions have existed at different times and in different countries, but today there is one widespread international ISO standard ( A4, B3, C4), versus the standard used in North America (letter, legal, ledger). The paper sizes affect writing paper, stationery, cards, or some printed documents. The standards also have related sizes for the envelopes used. Some book binders and newspaper printers tend to use sizes that are not part of these standards.


Paper is categorized by weight in grams per square metre i.e. 80gsm standard photostat paper therefore a typical A4 sheet (1⁄16 m²) weighs 5 grams. A typical photocopier paper would be 80 gsm, a good letterhead paper might be 100 gsm while a postcard would be about 250 gsm. Thick card is often measured by thickness in micrometres.

Weight has not only an effect on the feel of the magazine (heavier paper will generally be thicker and less easy to fold) but also shipping/mailing costs of the final magazine. More weight costs more to ship/mail.

Uncoated Offset Paper

Uncoated Paper is designed to generally run in offset presses. Uncoated papers can be textured.

  • Woven or Smooth: a smooth, uncoated surface.
  • Laid: a paper that is manufactured with textured lines on its surface. This finish is used mostly for business stationery elements, like letterhead, envelopes and business cards.
  • Linen: similar to a laid finish, this paper has textured lines on the surface of the sheet, but they are finer and more regular than those that appear on a laid finish stock. This paper is also used frequently for business stationery.

Coated Offset Paper

Coated paper is paper which has been coated by a compound to impart certain qualities to the paper, including weight, surface gloss, smoothness or reduced ink absorbency. Kaolinite or calcium carbonate are used to coat paper for high quality printing used in packaging industry and in magazines.

Coated paper seems cleaner and brighter and are available in several finishes: matte, dull, or gloss.

  • Gloss: The majority of magazines today use gloss paper, the property responsible for coated paper’s shiny or lustrous appearance. Gloss papers are less opaque and have less bulk and are less expensive than Dull and Matte papers.
  • Dull/Satin: Smooth surface paper that is low in gloss. Dull coated paper falls between matte and glossy paper.
  • Matt: A non-glossy, flat looking paper. Matte papers are higher in cost and in bulk.
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