Text Weight Paper, Card Stock Paper – Paper Density Explained

Confused About Paper Weight? Get the 411 Here.

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When it comes to specialty paper & paper weight, our customers are generally concerned with paper thickness, how it feels in their hands, and whether or not they will be able to print the paper at home. So naturally, there is concern when a thick card stock and a thinner, lighter sheet are both listed at 80lbs. How can it be?

Paper weight can be a little bit confusing. To answer this common question and clear things up, we’re going to explain the standards used to attribute paper weight (also referred to as paper density–the mass of the product per unit of area) in this easy to follow video and article below.


80lb cover stock paper, 80lb text weight paper

How can a heavier card stock and a lighter paper both weigh 80lbs?

When it comes to paper weight, our customers are generally concerned with paper thickness, how it feels in their hands, and whether or not they will be able to print the paper at home. So naturally, there is concern when a thick card stock and a thinner, lighter sheet are both listed at 80lbs. How can it be? To answer this common question, we’re going to explain the standards used to attribute paper weight (also referred to as paper density–the mass of the product per unit of area).

What is the scale used to determine paper weight?

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one scale; there are two systems used to measure paper weight. Which system you use depends on your country. If you’re the type of person that likes to understand how things work, you’ll want to learn about both.

(1) My country uses the metric system.

grams per square meter keyThe simplest and most widely used convention outside of the US is grams per square meter (g/m² or GSM)–the weight in grams of a 1 meter x 1 meter sheet. If a 1 x 1 meter sheet of a particular line of paper weighs 120 grams, then that paper weight is 120 g/m². All grades and paper types use this simple scale. With the metric paper density system, you’ll never run into a case where a heavier paper has the same or lower g/m² number as a lighter paper. The higher the number, the heavier the paper. If the number is lower, the paper is lighter.

(2) I’m in North America.

paper reamsThe weights of different paper grades are calculated using each grade’s basis weight. First, let’s define some key ideas–paper grades, base ream, and basis weight:

Paper Grades: Different types of papers with their own characteristics and end uses

Base Ream: The size and paper count used to weigh a particular paper grade to determine paper density, generally the manufactured size before the paper is cut to the consumer product dimensions

Basis Weight: The weight of a particular paper grade using that grade’s base ream size and count

See chart for paper grade descriptions and the base ream counts and dimensions that are used for determining each grade’s basis weight:

Grade Description Base Ream
Cover Heavyweight paper used for invitations, program covers, postcards, business cards, and paperback book covers Pre-scoring before folding highly recommended 500 sheets
20 inches x 26 inches
Text Lightweight paper commonly used for letterhead, envelopes, program insert sheets, and résumés Easy to fold without scoring 500 sheets
25 inches x 38 inches
Bond or Writing Strong, rigid paper used for letterheads and many other printing purposes 500 sheets
17 inches x 22 inches
Tissue Light and thin, sometimes decorative sheet 480 sheets
24 inches x 36 inches
Index Thin, inexpensive paper with a smooth finish, often used for business reply cards 500 sheets
25 1/2 inches x 30 1/2 inches
Box cover Frequently lined with good folding properties and used for making boxes and cartons 500 sheets
20 inches x 24 inches
Newsprint Manufactured mostly from mechanical pulps specifically for the printing of newspapers 500 sheets
24 inches x 36 inches
Paperboard A heavy weight, thick and rigid, single or multi-layer sheet 1,000 sheets
12 inches x 12 inches
Bristol Fine quality cardboard made by pasting several sheets together 500 sheets
22 1/2 inches x 28 1/2 inches
Blotting An un-sized paper used to absorb excess ink from freshly written manuscripts, letters and signatures 500 sheets
19 inches x 24 inches
Hanging, waxing, bag, etc. The raw stock used in making wallpaper 500 sheets
24 inches x 36 inches

How can a text weight sheet and a card stock both carry the same weight?

Now we can finally answer the original question (which is only a scenario that would surface if the weights were calculated using the US paper density system). Since one paper is a text weight grade and the other is a cover stock grade, they use different size base reams when they are weighed. You should almost think of the two paper grades–text and cover–as being weighed on different scales. Like the product shown at the top of this article, there are often scenarios where a heavier, thicker card stock is rated the same weight as a lighter text weight sheet. We know that an 80lb cover stock is heavier than 80lb text paper because the cover stock uses smaller base ream dimensions than the text paper, yet still holds the same weight.

Paper Stock Weight Calculator

Now that you’re familiar with the US density system of different base ream sizes for different paper types vs. the single scale metric system of grams per square inch, you can use our paper weight calculator with confidence. Use it to quickly convert from one system to the other.

If converting from pounds to grams, select “lb”, enter the weight, and select the paper type. The equivalent grammage will display in the bottom field.

If converting from grams to pounds, select “grams”, enter the weight, then choose the paper type. The weight in pounds will display in the bottom field.

Loading Card Stock Paper Weight Calculator by LCI Paper – Specialty Paper, Tips and Tools

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24 Comments

  1. NANCY JAMES says:

    I am starting to make my own cards. Q: Is the 140LB cardstock thicker and heavier than 62LB card stock? And Is the 140LB cardstock thicker and heavier than 220GSM? Thanks, It is a little confusing to me. I Do not understand if the higher the number, the heavier the paper? Would you rank in order: 140LB, 62LB, 220GSM. Thanks so much
    Sincerely one confused with paper weights

    • Chase says:

      Hi Nancy
      If all the items you listed are Card Stock or Cover Stock, then lightest to heaviest:

      • 62lb Card Stock is lightest
      • 220 GSM is the European system for paper weight. In lbs it would be about 80lb Card Stock
      • 140lb Card Stock is the heaviest paper on your list.
  2. Barrie says:

    Thank you so much for this video!

    I am considering buying a printer which says it can handle up to 220gsm. Do you know whether this is referring to text or card stock?

    Secondly, what would 130lb card stock translate to in gsm? Would it be less than 220gsm?

    Thanks for your time. As soon as I get a printer I will be ordering linen paper from LCI. :)

    • Chase says:

      Hi Barrie,

      Glad the video was helpful!

      GSM stands for Grams per Square Meter, the metric standard for measuring paper density. The manufacturer of the printer you’re interested in uses the European system of paper density, not the North American system, for their paper weight specs. If you use our handy Paper Stock Weight Calculator (above), you will see that 220 gsm equals 81 lb cover. You did not mention if you are planning on purchasing a laser printer or inkjet printer, however our 80lb / 220gsm Linen Card Stock Paper should work fine using either one.

      To answer your second question, again, you can use our Paper Stock Weight Calculator to calculate card stock to gsm. 130 lb card stock is 352 gsm, quite a bit heavier than the manufacturer’s recommendation.

      Please let us know if we can be of further help.

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Berrie,

    I am looking for 2 different card stocks with similar appearance and thickness but with dramatically different densities. Is it possible for example to find a 10pt. card stock weighing in at around 275gsm and another that is about the same thickness weighing only half as much?

    Thank you,
    Mike

    • Chase says:

      Any stock that is measured in point or pt. is used to indicate the thickness of the paper. Each point is equivalent to .001 inch, therefore 8 pt cover is the same as .008 inch thickness and 10 pt as .010 thickness, etc. Although it is not absolute, there is an approximate method to convert paper measured in pt’s to lb’s, however paper density may and will vary. Here are some examples of approximate pts. converted to cover weights:

      • 8 pt equals 66 lb cover
      • 10 pt equals 80 lb cover
      • 12 pt equals 92 lb cover

      Coatings and finishes used in the manufacturing processes of paper will change the density of the paper. For example single side coated vs double side coated paper although the same grams will have different densities.  A great example is our So Silk Brand of paper. This card stock is a 130lb card stock however the unique manufacturing processes used to create its soft and subtle finish will make this a less dense sheet than many lighter weight card stocks on the market.

  4. Robert Tarsi says:

    For Christmas, bought the wife a HP Officejet 7500A printer. This is a wide format printer with the capability of printing on 12 x 12 paper. She would like to get her hands on just a ream of regular (not cardstock) text paper in 12 x 12 size. Can you help?

  5. JB says:

    Hi Robert,

    Yes, we have an assortment of 12 x 12 text weight sheets. On the right hand column, under Place Order, Select Type, click Text Paper. This will reveal just the text weight sheets. Currently, we only have metallic paper available in 12 x 12 text weight sheets. They are sold in 50 packs.

    If you would like smooth, matte finish sheets, we may be able to custom cut for you. Please call us so we can go over the possibilities.

  6. Michelle says:

    Hi,
    I make wedding favor boxes from cardstock and I’d love to work with CTI’s aspire petallics. I ordered a sample of 105 lb cardstock paper and it was much thicker than the cardstock that I normally buy. I think text paper will be way too thin though. Does this paper come in a weight somewhere in between the two?

    Thank you,
    Michelle

  7. JB says:

    Hi Michelle,

    When you click through our Aspire Petallics colors, in the Specifications area you will see the Paper weight for the card stock displayed as either 98lb or 105lb cover.

    Currently Autumn Hay, Beargrass, Copper Ore, Gold Ore, Juniper Berry, Mountain Rose, and Silver Ore are 98lb cover. Black Ore, Snow Willow, Spearmint, and Wine Cup are 105lb cover. I assume you ordered a sample of one of the colors available in 105lb cover.

    The Aspire Petallics text weight sheets vary between 80lb and 81lb text, depending on color.

    Yes, there is quite a difference in thickness, weight, and rigidity between the text weight and card stock sheets. We do not carry a mid-weight grade in between our cover and text sheets. You may find the 98lb cover colors to be a bit easier to work with. You can order a sample of one of the 98lb cover colors to test.

    We would love to see one of your custom wedding favor boxes. Please consider our Share Your Creativity offer.

  8. Steve says:

    Hi: I am looking for a fairly heavy cardstock – around 130-150lb – with a slightly reflective finish on one side for good photo reproduction. Any suggestions? Do you offer samples?
    Thanks

  9. JB says:

    Hi Steve,

    Although we don’t carry photo paper, many people achieve great results with our own LCI Radiant White card stock. This card stock is available in 65lb, 80lb, 100lb, and 120lb, unfortunately, not in the heavier weight you’re looking for. But just in case you could go a bit lighter, see our 120lb 8 1/2 x 11 Card Stock LCI Radiant White. Regarding samples, yes, we offer samples of almost all of our items. Please see the video, How To Order Paper & Invitation Samples.

  10. Jeff says:

    Hi,
    I am looking for a heavy weight business card. We currently have a sample of 130# but are looking for something even heavier. Do you have any suggests for paper?
    Thank you

  11. Julian says:

    Hey Chase!

    I was wondering if you could recommend a type and thickness of paper that mimics the thickness of a playing card, or that of a cereal box.

    Initially I thought cardstock would match this thickness, but it just isn’t as thick as I need it to be.

    Thanks so much!

  12. LInda says:

    I have cricut machine an I make different kinds of boxes. The card stock I use is to thin to hold up good. What weight of paper do I need? And I also make from the cricut Little houses. I would really appreciate the infomation. Thank tou Very much.

    • Kristen says:

      Hi Linda,

      Unfortunately we do not have much experience with Cricuts around here, but I can tell you that our favor boxes are made with 105lb card stock and hold up very nicely, and are nice and sturdy. You can see an example here:

      Stardream Metallic DIY Favor Boxes

      Of course your box designs may be a bit different, but any stock over 90lb should work out well.

  13. Hung Nguyen says:

    What are the thickness of 60lb, 80lb, 100lb, and 110lb cardstock papers?
    At the USPS, the min. requirement for paper thickness for Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is 0.007″ (7PT).
    How can you convert from paper weigh to paper thickness?

    Thank you,
    Hung Nguyen

    • Kristen says:

      Hi Hung,

      Unfortunately weight doesn’t always equate to the same thickness. Thickness varies with how the paper is made, if it is coated, how much it was compressed during manufacturing, etc. Some 80 lbs can be thicker or thinner than other 80 lbs as a result.

      Your best bet is to order samples of the papers you are interested in and bring them to your local post office. They can tell you with certainty if the thickness of the paper is appropriate.

  14. Julz says:

    Hi there! Can you tell me which of your cardstocks heavy weight min 300gsm can be used to paint acrylics on without warping? Would they need to be primed? I plan to use them as journal pages with acrylics, block printing etc. thanks in advance!

  15. Terri says:

    If I am going to use a 80T metallic on top of card stock…sheet on the cover, and also an insert…what card stock should I use. It is for wedding programs. Thanks!

    • Kristen says:

      Hi Terri,

      If you are not printing on the card stock, you can use any weight you want for the cover. It all depends on how thick and heavy you want your programs to be.