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Card Making ~ Paper: Sizes, Types & Weights

Thought I would share this ‘tid bit of information again….

Paper weights can be very confusing and difficult to translate.  With that in mind, I will try to give you a very general understanding of paperweights, according to my interpretation.

There are two (2) general TYPES of paper; Text Paper and Cardstock Paper.


Text Paper

Cardstock Paper

(also called “cover”)


Most often used in copy machines


Most often used in office printers, as business letterhead or as stationary


Good for brochures, presentations or 2-sided printing (w/minimal show-though)


Perfect for brochures & presentations.  Excellent for 2-sided printing


Mass Mailing Postcards


Great for postcards, menus and posters

Light Weight Business Cards and lightweight note cards


Great for self mailers with a “Soft feel” quick drying surface


Slightly heavier than Letterhead Paper

Typically used for Business Cards


Typically weight of Post cards


Great for small note cards


Great for Business Cards


Mostly used for flat cards or invitations.


Index Cards and Greeting Cards

Hopefully, this chart will help you in purchasing the correct type of paper for your project.

**A VERY IMPORTANT fact you need to remember is that 80 lb Text paper is entirely different that 80 lb Cardstock paper. 

Not all paper types are available in all weights.  Paper weight is very important for many reasons.  Thickness represents a nice quality project with high durability, but can also add to the weight of your mailing, which may incur additional postage costs.  It is important to determine the purpose of your project and the potential effects you desire vs. your cost of the completed mailing, when choosing you paper type.

**Also, when purchasing paper for projects, always make sure it is Acid Free, to prevent that nasty “yellowing”.


Paper Size

A (Letter Size)

8 1/2 x 11

B (Ledger Size)

11 x 17


17 x 22


22 x 34


34 x 44


28 x 40


11 x (22 1/2 to 90)


28 x (44 to 143)


34 x (55 to 176)


40 x (55 to 143)


The most common paper size you can probably guess; Letter Size (A) 8 ½ x 11.  Ledger Size (B), the 11 x 17 paper is most times utilized within the legal system; rental contracts, lawyer’s summons and loan agreements, are a few examples.

I recently completed a wedding invitation order, in which I used paper size C (17 x 22).  Because of the length of the paper, I was able to implement a “wrapped” style for the invitation, WITHOUT having to piece together any papers; one continuous “wrap”.

And of coarse, the larger size papers are wonderful for posters, banners and signs.

 Paper Glossary

 Acid Free Paper:  Paper manufactured to a neutral pH reading (7).  Used for fine art prints, limited edition printing, scrap-booking.

Antique Finish:  Random surface quality created by “felts” in the manufacturing process.

Basis Weight:  The basis weight of a paper is the designated fixed weight of 500 sheets, measured in pounds, in that paper’s basic sheet size.  It is important to note that the “basic sheet size” is not the same for all types of paper.

Brightness:  Light reflecting property of paper when measured under a specially calibrated blue light.

Bond Paper:  Uncoated “plain” paper, free from impurities.  Also referred to as “free sheet.” (i.e.: writing papers, including ledger, that accept ink readily and can be erased)

Bristols:  Solid or laminated heavy-weight printing paper made to a thickness of .006″ or higher. Bristols are often used for printed items that require repeated handling.

Bulk:  The thickness of paper when compared to its weight. A high bulk paper is thicker but less compact than a low-bulk paper of the same weight and size.

Calendaring:  Part of the paper manufacturing process where the paper “web” passes between polished metal rolls. This increases the paper’s smoothness and provides a uniform thickness (caliper).

Caliper:  Caliper refers to the thickness of a sheet of paper expressed in thousandth of an inch. This measurement is taken with a micro meter.  Normally, paper caliper should not have more than a + or – 5% variance within a sheet. Caliper is generally, the relation between caliper and basis weight; the greater the caliper (the thicker the paper), the greater the paper weight.

Coated Paper:  Book paper with a clay coating ensuring smoothness (i.e.: dull, satin, gloss, matte).

Cover Paper:  Paper coated and uncoated; used for book covers, brochures, etc.

Digital Paper:  Paper for copiers, ink-jet and laser printers, as well as high-end digital presses like Xeikon and Indigo.

Equivalent Weight:  While different paper types have different basic sizes, papers can still be compared by using equivalent weight.

Groundwood Paper:  A low cost paper that contains unprocessed wood fibers.

Mill Bristol Paper:  A board grade paper receptive to folding, embossing, and stamping.

Newsprint Paper:  Paper used for printing newspapers; highly acidic, degrades quickly.

Offset Paper:  Uncoated book paper treated with sizing to resist moisture.

Opaque Paper:  Uncoated book paper treated to be less transparent.

Recycled Paper:  Paper manufactured from the waste paper stream.  All Micro Format recycled products contain a minimum of 100% recycled material including 40% post consumer waste.

Tag Paper:  Water resistant and fold-able paper, used for tags.

Text Paper:  Uncoated book paper (often of an interesting color) used for announcements and the like.

Thermal Paper:  A paper coated with special chemicals that produce an image when heat is applied.


Did you know we have cardstock also?

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