Solving the Paper Weight Puzzle

Selecting the right paper can make all the difference for your next printing project. Due to the wide range of grades, weights and finishes available, choosing the paper that best fits your needs can be challenging. Physical factors include whiteness (blue white vs. warm white), coating, brightness, opacity, grain direction, grade, finish, smoothness, ink holdout, recycled content, bulk and weight. Today, we’re going to focus on one of the most confusing factors: paper weight.

Weight plays a pivotal role in the paper selection process because certain types of paper are better suited for specific applications. At James Printing, you can relax as we help find the paper that’s right for you.

Basis Weight
The basis weight of paper is simply this: the fixed weight of 500 sheets or a “ream” of paper in that paper’s basic sheet size. For example, 80# offset stock means that 500 sheets of that paper, cut to 25” x 38” (offset’s basic sheet size) weighs 80 pounds.

Ever wonder why 20lb bond feels like 50# offset? The answer is that the basic sheet size of bond is 17”x 22”, not 25”x 38”. So 500 sheets of 17”x 22” 20# bond weighs … you got it now … 20 pounds.

Text Weight vs. Cover Weight
Text weight and cover weight are the most common types of paper requested by James Printing customers. The name “text” weight comes from book text as opposed to book cover. Text weight stock is ubiquitous. It’s used in fliers, annual reports, promotional materials, direct mail and just about any other printing application. Since 25”x 38” is such a useful book text printing size, this became the basic sheet size for this stock.

The name “cover” weight comes from book covers. Since the printing of covers typically requires a smaller sheet, 20”x 26” became the basic sheet size for this classification of paper stock. Cover weight stock is heavier than text weight stock and is a popular choice for brochures with only a few pages, high-end self-mailers and as the cover for a myriad of bound products. Yes, the higher weights of text stock start to feel like the lower weights of cover stock. Hence, 100# text starts looking and performing a lot like 60# cover.

Know your Mailing Options
How your product is going to be distributed is always an important consideration in choosing paper because heavier items cost more to mail. If your piece is going to be delivered through the mail, it must meet United States Postal Service (USPS) minimum weight and thickness (bulk) requirements. Due to ever rising postal rates (the next scheduled rate increase is in May 2008), a miscalculation in postal weight can have unintended and sometimes devastating postal cost consequences.

If you’re contemplating a large mailing project, let your friends at James Printing get involved early in the estimating and design process. We’ll gladly get you a pre-production sample (bulking dummy) and even take it to the post office to verify mailing costs if necessary. We don’t know if the other guys do that but we are glad to!

The James Printing Advantage
Since 1971, James Printing has helped hundreds of companies achieve their goals by providing high quality printed materials to meet evolving communication needs. James Printing offers a wide range of graphic arts capabilities including expert job planning, instant preflighting, complementary proofreading, technically advanced litho and digital printing, complete bindery services, round-the-clock production and comfortable-as-silk hand holding at every step.

We’re centrally located in Kansas City, Missouri, for easy access to just about anywhere. James Printing is more than a printer; we’re a complete communications solution provider.