Understanding Printer Paper Weight and Thickness

Understanding Printer Paper Weight and Thickness


When it comes to choosing printer paper, weight and thickness are important factors to consider. The weight and thickness of printer paper can impact the quality and durability of your printed materials. In this article, we will delve into the world of printer paper weight and thickness, and help you understand the different options available to make informed decisions for your printing needs.

What is Paper Weight?

Paper weight refers to the heaviness or thickness of the paper. It is typically measured in pounds (lb) or grams per square meter (g/m²). The weight of the paper is determined by the weight of a ream, which is a bundle of 500 sheets of paper. The higher the weight, the thicker and heavier the paper.

Common Paper Weights

Here are some common paper weights you may come across:

  • 20 lb: This is the standard weight for most copiers and printers and is suitable for everyday use.
  • 24 lb: Slightly heavier than 20 lb paper, it offers better durability and is often used for brochures and letterheads.
  • 28 lb: This weight is commonly used for high-quality presentations and marketing materials.
  • 32 lb: Considered heavyweight paper, it is ideal for professional documents, such as resumes and business reports.

Understanding Paper Thickness

Paper thickness, also known as paper caliper, refers to the measurement of the paper’s thickness. It is often indicated in points, with one point equal to 0.001 inch. The higher the point value, the thicker the paper.

Standard Paper Thickness

Standard copy paper usually has a thickness of around 0.004 inches or 4 mil. This is commonly referred to as the paper’s “gsm,” which stands for grams per square meter.

Thicker papers, which are commonly used for specialty printing projects, can range from 6 mil to over 16 mil, depending on the desired effect and usage.

Choosing the Right Paper Weight and Thickness

When selecting printer paper, it’s important to consider your specific printing needs and requirements. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Printer Compatibility

Ensure that the paper weight and thickness are compatible with your printer. Check the printer’s specifications or consult the user manual for the recommended paper weight and thickness range.

Intended Use

Different printing projects require varying paper weights and thicknesses. For everyday printing, standard 20 lb paper is often sufficient. However, if you’re printing professional documents or high-quality materials, opting for heavier weights like 28 lb or 32 lb paper can elevate the overall look and feel of your prints.


If you’re printing materials that will be handled frequently, such as business cards, brochures, or invitations, consider thicker paper options to ensure durability and longevity.

Cost Considerations

Thicker and heavier papers often come at a higher cost. It’s essential to factor in your budget when choosing the paper weight and thickness, especially for large printing projects.


Understanding printer paper weight and thickness is crucial for achieving optimal print quality and durability. By considering factors such as intended use, printer compatibility, and cost, you can make well-informed choices when selecting the weight and thickness of your printer paper. Remember to always check your printer’s specifications and experiment with different options to find the perfect paper for your printing needs.

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