The Paper Weight Guide & Uses

Understanding paper weights can be challenging due to the diverse range of paper stocks available. This guide will clarify different paper weights, their applications, and how to choose the best one for your notebooks. At Interwell, we're here to help you find the perfect notebook paper weight and answer any related questions.

Paper Weight Guide & Usesmob page Paper Weight Guide

How is paper weight determined?

In the paper business, standard methods are used to quantify stock. Here we introduce the concepts of pounds (sometimes written as "#" or "lb"), points (often written as "pt"), and GSM.

How is paper weight determined?
  • GSM (Grams per Square Meter): Measures paper weight. A0 paper (841 mm x 1189 mm) is the reference point for GSM. Other paper sizes are relative to A0's weight.
  • Pounds (# or lb): Refers to paper weight. Heavier paper implies thicker stock. For instance, bond paper ranges from 20-80 gsm, while card stock is 50-140 gsm.
  • Points: Indicates paper thickness. For example, 10-point paper is 10/1000ths of an inch thick.

GSM vs. Thickness

  • GSM measures weight, not thickness. Two 300 GSM papers can differ in thickness.
  • For spine size, verify actual paper thickness due to varying densities.
  • For full-color printing, opt for heavier paper to prevent bleed-through.
  • Consider paper opacity, especially for notebooks. Light paper (80-90gsm) is ideal for general use, while thicker paper (up to 140gsm) suits artist sketchbooks or professional pads.
paper GSM and thickness

Most Popular Paper Weights & Thickness Chart

Paper Types Weights Thickness
Coated paper 80gsm 0.075mm
105gsm 0.09mm
128gsm 0.11mm
157gsm 0.14mm
Offset Paper 60gsm 0.075mm
70gsm 0.085mm
80gsm 0.095mm
100gsm 0.12mm
120gsm 0.14mm

Lightweight Paper

Lightweight papers, while versatile, face challenges, especially in opacity. High-opacity papers allow minimal light passage, preventing print bleed-through.

Lightweight Paper


  • Optimal for Multi-page Notebooks: Lightweight papers (75-90 gsm) are ideal for notebooks with many pages due to their higher PPI (per inch).
  • Versatility: They're perfect for consolidating multiple sets into a single notebook and are suitable for general use.


  • Lacks Strength: These papers lack the tensile strength found in heavier papers, making them more challenging to handle.
  • Easily Damaged: Extra care is needed throughout the printing process to prevent damage.
  • Opacity Concerns: While opacity isn't a concern for journals, sketchpads require high opacity to ensure drawings can be placed anywhere on the page. Groundwood lightweight paper typically has higher opacity than other types, and coated papers offer more opacity than uncoated due to their coating.

Medium Weight Papers

Medium weight papers, such as cover stock sheets and card stocks, typically range from 65 to 80 pounds (or 170 to 216 gsm).


  • Can be printed on a wide variety of home printers; however, printing functionality is device-specific. 
  • Perfect thickness for embossing and cutting machines to create detailed patterns.


  • The printer could refuse to feed the paper or get jammed if it is too thick.
  • Thick paper causing printer feed and jam issues is not a paper defect.
Medium Weight Papers

Heavy Weight Papers

Card stocks in this category are much thicker than those in the medium-weight group. Their weight is best compared to a greeting card. Weights for heavy paper range from 80 to 200 pounds.

Heavy Weight Papers


  • High-quality, hefty card stock
  • Provides heavier finish
  • Needs a score to be folded


  • Are not compatible with the vast majority of home printers; testing is required.

Extra Heavy Weight Paper

Lastly, card stocks weighing 111 pounds or more fall under the Extra Heavy Weight category; this is almost the same weight as a cereal box but isn't quite as stiff. Again, test printing is required on these paperboards. Some of the papers in this group are double thick, making them as substantial and sturdy as a sheet of chipboard.


  • Durable
  • More resistant to wear and tear
  • Provide a stronger foundation for foil stamping or embossing


  • More expensive but value for the money
Extra Heavy Weight Paper
Jerome Wu

Jerome Wu

About the Author

Jerome Wu, a renowned expert in the stationery field, crafts insightful content for Interwell Stationery. With over a decade of industry experience, Jerome brings a deep understanding of stationery trends and innovation.

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