The Paper Weight Guide & Uses

The wide range of paper stocks makes it possible to carry out various administrative and artistic printing tasks. The diversity of the paper makes it useful and adaptable, but it also makes it hard to understand. Here, we'll define various paper weights and discuss their potential applications and what's best for your notebooks.

At Interwell, we can assist you in finding the ideal notebook paper weight for your needs. We'd be pleased to answer any questions about notebooks, whether they're broad in scope or more particular, such as those about thickness, weight, printing, packaging, and more.

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?
1. GMS: GSM stands for grams per square meter and is the unit of measurement used to describe the weight of paper.
The thickness of a sheet of paper is often measured in terms of weight and calculated from the average weight of an A0 sheet of paper (size 841 mm x 1189 mm). A0 paper's weight can be considered a reference point, and any other size of the same GSM paper can be considered a relative weight to that of A0.
2. Pounds "#" or lb": When talking about paper, pounds mean weight.
The heavier the paper, the thicker the paper stock. Depending on the paper's composition, their weights can range from twenty to a hundred and forty pounds. Beautiful bond paper comes between 20 and 80 gsm, while sturdy card stock ranges from 50 to 140 gsm. The weight of a sheet of paper does not indicate its thickness.
3. Points
Points are used to quantify the thickness of the paper rather than the weight, which are not necessarily exactly proportional to one another. It is more precise to measure the thickness of a piece of paper in points, with some tools able to measure down to the thousandths of an inch. Increasing the point's value indicates an increase in thickness; hence, 10-point paper is equivalent to 10/1000ths of an inch, while the 16-point paper is equivalent to 16/1000ths of an inch. It will show up fairly clearly in the printed output compared to other figures.
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Are GSM and thickness the same?

A sheet of paper measuring 1 meter squared (GSM) is defined solely by weight.
It is not a precise indicator of a sheet of paper's thickness or its eventual rigidity. Although heavy papers are often thicker and stiffer than light papers, it's possible for two papers to both be 300 gsm and yet have vastly differing thicknesses and rigidities.

When determining your spine size, it is important to verify the real thickness of the paper since different paper types have varying densities. When printing in full color, it's best to use heavier paper to avoid any bleed-through.

Opacity' readings, describing the shadow that may show through to the other side, are commonly provided by the paper maker. Use a light paper stock, such as 80-90gsm, for note-taking and general use, depending on the notebook's intended function. An artist's sketchbook or a professional writing pad could benefit from stronger material, such as 140gsm. The use of paper heavier than 110gsm is acceptable for endpapers.
paper GSM and thickness

Most Popular Paper Weights & Thickness Chart

Paper Types



Coated paper









Offset Paper











Lightweight Paper

Lightweight papers present several challenges, one of which is opacity. The degree of the opaqueness of the paper indicates its transparency. Low-transparency, high-opacity papers are those that allow for less light to pass through. The print may bleed over onto the opposite side of the page if you use lightweight paper.

Lightweight Paper

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lightweight Paper

  • Lightweight papers around 75-90 gsm are best for notebooks with many pages since they have a greater PPI (per inch). Useful for merging multiple sets into one notebook, lightweight papers are also great for general use.
  • Lightweight papers are more difficult to work with because they don't have the tensile strength of heavier papers.
  • Lightweight papers are also easily damaged, and great care must be taken at each stage of the printing process.
  • Opacity is not a major issue with notebooks like journals or writing notebooks. However, high opacity is required in notebooks such as sketchpads, etc., because the drawings could be placed wherever on the page.
  • The opacity of groundwood lightweight paper is often greater than that of other stocks. Coated papers are more opaque than uncoated papers because of their coating.

Medium Weight Papers

Cover stock sheets and card stocks of medium weight make the selection of medium-weight papers. Standard greeting card paper weights range from 65 to 80 pounds (or 170 to 216 gsm).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Medium Weight Paper

  • Has the potential to be printed on a wide variety of home printers; however, printing functionality is device-specific. 
  • 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.
  • It's the perfect thickness for embossing and cutting machines to create detailed patterns.
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

Advantages and Disadvantages of Heavy Weight Paper

  • Are not compatible with the vast majority of home printers; testing is required
  • High-quality, hefty card stock
  • Provides heavier finish
  • Needs a score to be folded

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.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Extra Heavy Weight Paper

  • 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
Su - Interwell Founder
Hi, I'm Su, the author of this post. I founded Interwell Stationery and have served over 1000+ clients since 2003. Feel free to contact us for custom stationery supplies, manufacturing support, and the latest trends in the industry.
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