DESIGN TIPS

PAPER

The primary source for paper is wood pulp, which is created with a chemical treatment of shredded wood. The wood pulp is comprised of cellulose fibers, usually a blend of soft wood and hard wood. Soft wood - such as pine - has long fibers and makes for a strong, rough paper. Hard wood - such as oak - has short fibers and creates weak but smooth paper. Alternative paper resources are cotton, hemp and rice straw. Artists frequently use "100% rag," which refers to cotton paper and is acid-free.

Paper Finish

Smooth paper finishes are created by passing paper through steel rollers. This process process of compression is called calendering. This process creates a less opaque paper, and is alternately called wove. Smooth paper has better ink holdout, making the printing of halftones and tint screens crisper; the ink stays more on the surface of the paper. All coated paper is calendared to some degree and is considered smooth.

Rough paper such as vellum and laid is uncalendared and uncoated. It will be more opaque than smooth paper, and more absorbant of ink. The finish appears more "natural". Paradoxically, vellum can also refer to a very smooth, translucent paper; however, printers use the term to mean the rough paper.

Comparative Basis Weights

20

50

-

-

24

60

-

-

28

70

-

-

32

80

-

-

40

100

55

67

-

120

65

80

-

-

80

100

-

-

100

120

Basis Weight

Each category of paper has one basic size used to determine basis weight. Basis weight, expressed in pounds, it the weight a one ream of five hundred sheets. The basic size is different for bond, text, cover, and bristol papers. See the chart on the right to compare.

Paper Categories

Newsprint: low quality, unbleached paper which has small chunks of wood pulp and is highly acidic.

Bond & writing: paper suitable for offices, copiers, stationery, and low-end publishing.

Offset: Paper used for most offset printing and for books.

Premium Text: Paper which is of high quality and may have some special surface characteristics. Coomonly used for invitations or other specialty uses.

Coated: Paper which has a clay or varnish coating applied to enhance smoothness and reflectance. Widely used for color reproduction and for books and magazines. The surface may be anywhere from dull/matted to high gloss. Coated paper is graded in terms of brightness and opacity, among other characteristics. The highest quality is no. 1, and is required by only the highest-quality print jobs. Most print jobs require grades no. 2 or 3.

Other resources:
Glossary
(fuller definitions of paper terms) | Paper Sizes | Envelope Sizes

Next: POSTAL REGULATIONS...