ZoePrint’s Paper Weight Guide: Everything You Need To Know

Paper Weight

Are you trying to decide which paper to choose for your next project? Wondering why 100lb text paper is actually lighter than 60lb cover paper? We know that the complicated world of paper weights can be a challenge to understand, so we’ve created this guide to help you out.

In this article, we’ll explain the essentials of paper weight, including an explanation of what we mean when we talk about paper weight, a helpful paper weight chart, and explanations of when you might want to choose which paper.

Paper Weight: The Basics

A paper’s weight is equal to the weight of 500 pieces of standard-size paper. Sounds simple, right? However, this gets a little bit more complicated when we factor in the complication that bond paper, text paper, cover paper, and index paper all have different standard sizes.

If it sounds confusing that there are multiple standard paper sizes, that’s because it is confusing! This system evolved over centuries and is due to the fact that, back in the day, each kind of paper was created for a different purpose, such as for newspapers, letters, or books, which all needed paper in different sizes. This idea of multiple paper paper sizes has stuck around, and we still use it today. In addition, different countries have different standard paper sizes, so we’ll focus on US paper sizes.

Here are the standard sizes for the main types of paper:

  • Bond paper: 22”x17”
  • Text paper: 38”x25”
  • Cover paper: 26”x20”
  • Index paper: 30.5”x25.5”

Given that there is such a wide range in standard sizes, there is also a huge range in the weight of 500 pieces of paper. Let’s look at an example: as you can see above, the standard text paper size is over twice as large as the standard bond paper size. Therefore, 500 pages of text paper will weigh over twice as much as 500 pages of bond paper.

Paper Weight vs. Points

If you’ve looked around paper and printing websites, you might have noticed that some papers are measured in pounds while others are measured in points (abbreviated as pt). While pounds are a measure of paper weight, points are a measure of paper thickness. One point equals 1/1000 of an inch. Therefore, for example, 60lb cover paper is 6pt paper, so it is 6/1000 of an inch thick.

The Ultimate Paper Weight Chart

Paper weight isn’t impossible to figure out if you have the right tools. Luckily, we’ve created a paper weight chart that can help you understand which paper you’re looking for. Here’s a list of paper weights that compares bond, text, cover, and index paper, along with each weight’s equivalent in points.

Bond (Ledger) Text (Book) Cover (Cardstock) Index Pt
16 40 22 33 3.2
18 45 24 37 3.6
20 50 28 42 3.8
24 60 33 50 4.8
28 70 39 58 5.8
29 73 40 60 6
31 81 45 66 6.1
35 90 50 75 6.8
39 100 54 81 7.2
40 100 56 83 7.3
43 110 60 90 7.4
44 110 61 92 7.6
47 120 65 97 8
53 135 74 110 9
54 137 75 113 9
58 146 80 120 9.5
65 165 90 135 10
67 170 93 140 10.5
72 183 100 150 11
76 192 105 158 13
82 208 114 170 14
87 220 120 180 15
105 267 146 220 18

In this table, for example, you can see that 100lb cover paper is the same thickness as 72lb bond paper, 183lb text paper, and 150lb index paper. As well, these four papers are all 11pt paper, or 11/1000 of an inch thick.

Most Common Papers: Which To Choose

Understanding how to convert between paper sizes helps you compare different paper weights. But how do you know which paper to choose for your next print project? Here are some pointers that might help.

Light Weight Papers

The lightest papers are typically lighter than 65lb bond paper. At-home printers can easily print on these papers, and they are easy to fold without scoring. They are good options for items such as flyers, interior pages for booklets or training manuals, and order forms.

Medium Weight Papers

This middle group of paper extends to approximately the equivalent of 74lb bond paper. These papers are still possible to print in an at-home printer, but they need to be scored before they are folded. They work well for thinner notecards, brochures, and other materials that are sturdier but still need to be a little bit flexible.

Heavy Weight Papers

Heavy weight papers are typically the equivalent 74lb to 90lb bond paper, making them too thick for an at-home printer. They are best printed through a professional printing company. They are typically used for sturdier items such as business cards and event invitations.

Extra-Heavy Weight Papers

At the equivalent of 90lb bond paper or even thicker, extra-heavy weight papers are the thickest papers. They can only be printed via a professional printing press, and they typically include items such as packaging and letterpress.

Work With The Print Experts

Hopefully this paper weight guide has helped you understand the complicated system of paper weights and can be a resource as you choose the best paper for your next project. If you have any questions about paper weights, reach out to ZoePrint! Our print experts can answer all of your questions and help you make the right choice.

In addition to providing advice and design services, we also print all the print products you need. Order online, or reach out to ZoePrint if you have any questions.