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Paper Types

Paper can have many different labels on a packet, designed to inform the user of the qualities of the paper, this page is here to help make sense of the labels and differences between paper types.

Weight/Thickness

In the metric system, the density of all types of paper and paperboard is expressed in terms of grams per square metre (g/m²). This quantity is commonly called grammage in both English and French (ISO 536), though printers in most English-speaking countries still refer to the "weight" of paper.

Although officially the unit symbol is "g/m²", it is more common than not in English speaking countries to be referred to as "gsm".

The common weight for typical office paper is 80gsm, therefor a typical A4 sheet weighs 5g.

Finish/Smoothness

Finish is the smoothness (or roughness) of a paper’s surface. In most print systems the smoothness of the paper has a significant impact on image quality. If the paper is too rough, the image quality degrades. Increasing roughness causes a loss of image quality in solids and halftones (resulting in grainy colours).

Satinated papers for colour printing are specifically designed for use in digital printing equipment. These are high quality papers with a smooth surface.

Environmental Credentials

There are countless different environmental standards labels to be found on paper packets, while we can't list them all we will look at a few of the most commonly found standards.

Elemental chlorine free (ECF) is a technique that uses chlorine dioxide for the bleaching of wood pulp. It does not use elemental chlorine gas during the bleaching process and prevents the formation of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, carcinogens.

Totally chlorine free (TCF) is paper that does not use any chlorine compounds for wood pulp bleaching.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC currently use three different labels:
~ FSC 100% - Products carrying the 100% FSC label come only from well-managed forests that have met FSC’s high social and environmental standards.
~ FSC mixed source - Products with a Mixed Sources label support the development of responsible forest management worldwide. The wood comes from FSC-certified well-managed forests, recycled material and/or controlled wood which come from non-controversial sources.
~ FSC mixed source - Products with a Mixed Sources label support the development of responsible forest management worldwide. The wood comes from FSC-certified well-managed forests, recycled material and/or controlled wood which come from non-controversial sources.

Other

Paper is also available in different sizes, we have also prepared a page to explain paper sizes.

We hope this little guide to paper types has been of use to you but if you have questions regarding the matter please feel free to contact us.