Choose the Right Paper for the Job + Common Paper Weights & Thier Uses

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.

 
Paper Type
 
Weight in Pounds #Weight in Grams (Approx.)Common Uses
Bond, Ledger, Writing14 lb        52 gsm        Tomoe River’s Renowned Fountain Pen Paper is 52gsm
Bond, Ledger, Writing20 lb       75 gsmStandard Printer Paper
Bond, Ledger, Writing24 lb90 gsmStationary, Resumes, Documents, Reports
Bond, Ledger, Writing28 lb105 gsmSame as Above, Double-Sided Printing (Minimal Showthrough)
Bond, Ledger, Writing32 lb120 gsmSigns, Flyers, Brochures, Double-Sided Printing (No Showthrough)
Book, Text
55 lb80 gsmBook Pages (Similar to 20 lb bond, “printer” paper.)
Book, Text70 lb105 gsmComic Book Pages
Book, Text85 lb128 gsmMagazine Pages
Book, Text105 lb157 gsmArt Books, Children’s Books
Book, Text135 lb200 gsmArt Books, Children’s Books, Covers for Notebooks
Bristol Vellum67 lb145 gsmPost Cards, Self-Mailers with Flex, “Soft Feel”, Sketchbooks/Dry Media Art books
Index90 lb165 gsmPaper Punching, Die-Cutting
Index110 lb200 gsmCovers for Notebooks, Manilla Folders, Tabs/Dividers
Index140 lb255 gsmFlat Cards, Invitations
Stock, Cover67 lb176 gsmPaper Punching, Die-Cutting, Strong with “Soft Feel”, Postcards, Menus, Posters
Stock, Cover82 lb216 gsmCovers for Notebooks, Manilla Folders, Tabs/Dividers, Common Business Card
Stock, Cover100 lb270 gsmFlat Cards, Invitations

 

The paper glossary.

 
Term
 
Meaning
Acid-Free PaperArchival, or archive-safe. Acid-free paper prevents documents from yellowing over time.
FSC Certified PaperThe Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ensures that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible way.
HandmadeHandmade 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 SurfaceA 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?

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