The paper choice dilemma.
Let’s say you want to make your own journal refills or art books, but you have no idea how to choose the right paper for your project. I was totally in this boat last year when I started out. Paper weight was pretty much a foreign concept.
So, I went on a mission to collect all of the common paper weights, paper types, and their uses, to create a frame of reference. I am sharing it here along with other handy bits of information. The charts below give the most used paper weights in pounds and in grams, lb and gsm, along with how they’re typically used.
My goal, is of course, to come back and add to this page whenever I find some new and helpful bits of information, and you can help by commenting below!
TLDR; solid paper choices for journal making.
- For journal refill covers, an 80lb cardstock or 110lb index paper are both great, and right about 200 gsm.
- For fountain pen writing, Tomoe River’s 52 gsm (14lb) paper is the people’s choice. It is thin but strong, and has ghosting without bleed through.
- For dry media artists, a 167lb (145 gsm) Bristol Vellum is perfect.
- For everyday bullet journal writing, a 24lb (90gsm) paper beats the old standard printer paper. For a luxury feel look for a cotton or linen paper.
Handy-dandy reference table.
|Weight in Pounds #||Weight in Grams (Approx.)||Common Uses|
|Bond, Ledger, Writing||14 lb||52 gsm||Tomoe River’s Renowned Fountain Pen Paper is 52gsm|
|Bond, Ledger, Writing||20 lb||75 gsm||Standard Printer Paper|
|Bond, Ledger, Writing||24 lb||90 gsm||Stationary, Resumes, Documents, Reports|
|Bond, Ledger, Writing||28 lb||105 gsm||Same as Above, Double-Sided Printing (Minimal Showthrough)|
|Bond, Ledger, Writing||32 lb||120 gsm||Signs, Flyers, Brochures, Double-Sided Printing (No Showthrough)|
|Book, Text ||55 lb||80 gsm||Book Pages (Similar to 20 lb bond, “printer” paper.)|
|Book, Text||70 lb||105 gsm||Comic Book Pages|
|Book, Text||85 lb||128 gsm||Magazine Pages|
|Book, Text||105 lb||157 gsm||Art Books, Children’s Books|
|Book, Text||135 lb||200 gsm||Art Books, Children’s Books, Covers for Notebooks|
|Bristol Vellum||67 lb||145 gsm||Post Cards, Self-Mailers with Flex, “Soft Feel”, Sketchbooks/Dry Media Art books|
|Index||90 lb||165 gsm||Paper Punching, Die-Cutting|
|Index||110 lb||200 gsm||Covers for Notebooks, Manilla Folders, Tabs/Dividers|
|Index||140 lb||255 gsm||Flat Cards, Invitations|
|Stock, Cover||67 lb||176 gsm||Paper Punching, Die-Cutting, Strong with “Soft Feel”, Postcards, Menus, Posters|
|Stock, Cover||82 lb||216 gsm||Covers for Notebooks, Manilla Folders, Tabs/Dividers, Common Business Card|
|Stock, Cover||100 lb||270 gsm||Flat Cards, Invitations|
The paper glossary.
|Acid-Free Paper||Archival, or archive-safe. Acid-free paper prevents documents from yellowing over time.|
|FSC Certified Paper||The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ensures that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible way.|
|Handmade||Handmade paper has personality, the thickness can vary in areas across each sheet. You may wish to avoid handmade papers if consistency is needed or important to you.|
|Smooth Surface||Smooth surfaces have little-to-no tooth and are ideal for pens, markers, airbrushing, and drawing fine lines.|
|Vellum Surface||A vellum surface has peaks and valleys that grab dry media, like graphite. It is ideal for pastels, charcoal, colored pencils, et cetera.|
What are your best tips for choosing the right paper for your project?