Stock & Paper
Choosing your paper stock might not seem like the most complicated job, but it’s important to know your options as there is a lot out there. From acid free and recycled, to gloss or not to gloss, the paper that you choose will affect the feel, look, use and of course cost of your notebook. In this section, we will cover a range of subjects, from different paper types and varnishes through to the history of paper and paper sizes.
The Evolution of Paper
We’re all somewhat aware of paper’s origins, borrowed from the Egyptian ‘Papyrus’, involving the use of strips of plant matter arranged in horizontal and vertical layers, which are then pressed until dry, creating a thick cream coloured paper. This tactile product is far from what we know today as paper, but is still used and made for mostly artisanal and craft purposes. The paper we know today began in China, beginning with rag and plant fibres, creating dyed, coated and sized paper. From toilet paper to tea bags, there is a lot to thank the invention of paper for. Thanks to the 19th century industry improvements and the use of wood pulp, paper became affordable and was able to develop into the various forms we can offer to you, such as recycled, waterproof, acid free, transparent and munken. Most paper now is made from recycled board and paper, Virgin paper does exist, but at a higher cost.
Paper is weighed by GSM, meaning grams per square meter. This measurement is used to refer to the thickness of the paper but is relative to its weight. This number is determined by the weight of the A0 size of a paper, so for example a paper with 100gsm at size A0 would weigh 100g. Any size paper of the same GSM would have a relative weight to that of A0, whereby the change in weight is proportional to the change in size i.e. Half the size of A0 (A1) would be half the weight of A0, e.g. an A1 100gsm paper will weigh 50g, an A2 100gsm will weigh 25g and so on.
The important thing to remember is that the GSM refers to the thickness. Standard paper used in home printers and offices are usually 70-80gsm, as these are usually the most cost effective. For more formal or important documents and letters, a heavier stock ranging between 90-120gsm would be used, whereas for Newspaper 45-50gsm is used. Over 160gsm, paper becomes card, however the terms are adhered to loosely.
Some styles of paper are denser than others, so it is always best to check the ‘real’ thickness of the paper when calculating your spine. For full colour ink jobs, a thicker paper is always recommended to prevent any show-through. The manufacturer of the paper often provides ‘opacity’ readings, explaining how much shadow may show through to the other side. Depending on the purpose of your notebook, a light weight paper stock such as 80-90gsm is adequate for note taking and general purpose use. A heavier stock such as 140gsm can provide a base for a sketcher’s pad or for formal writing purposes. Paper over 110gsm can be used for end papers. In America paper is weighed in lbs (noted as lb or #). Cover stock is considered different to text stock (inner pages), therefore an 80lb text stock is not the same as an 80lb cover stock.
The A series is defined by 4 requirements as outlined by the ISO 216:
- The length is divided by the width is 1.4142
- The A0 size has an area of 1 square meter
- Each subsequent size is cut in half parallel to its shorter sides.
- The standard length and width of each size is rounded to the nearest millimetre
The B series are intermediate between the A series, e.g. B1 is a size between A0 and A1, though it’s sizes are the same ratio and scale down/up in the same way. It is not widely used as much as the A series, but is used more in the printing industry where its sizes are better suited. B5 is used commonly as a book size, and B1 or B2 presses are common.
The C series is the measurement of envelope sizes, with each number corresponding to the envelope for an A or B size, e.g. C4 is slightly bigger than A4 in order to fit the A4 paper inside. In turn, a C4 envelope would fit inside a B4 envelope.
In North America, Canada and parts of Mexico the paper sizes differ. Instead they use Letter, Legal, Executive and Ledger / Tabloid sizes. Letter is considered to be the closest equivalent to A4.