HOW TO CHOOSE
THE RIGHT PAPER

Things to Consider

Function

Consider if your paper will need to be: printed, folded, mailed, hung, or cut. Will it function as packaging with wear and tear? Does it need to make a bold & memorable impression?


Sustainability

Do you love paper products but don't love the environmental impact? Consider using recycled, hemp, or FSC Certified papers for your project.  

Print Type

Will you be having your paper professionally printed? Printed at home? Not all papers will work with all printers. If you are unsure, we recommend buying a sample pack to test print.


Color & Texture

Is the mood of your project neutral, dark and moody, or bursting with color? Do you love seeing the history of recycled paper in the flecks?  

Let's Start With Function

How tough do you need it to be?

Thin Basis Weights

Includes GSM

50 lb Text

75

24 lb Bond Text
60 lb Text

90

28 lb Bond
70 lb Text

105

80 lb Text

118

32 lb Bond

120

100 lb Text

148

Common Uses

letterhead
resumes
insert sheets
decorative purposes
simple flyers
origami
paper quilling
newsletters
hand-printed linocut
woodblock printing
zines
risograph printing

Traits

easy to fold/roll without scoring
can use in most home printers

Medium Basis Weights

Includes GSM

65 lb Cover

176

80 lb Cover

216

Common Uses

invitations
posters
business cards
layered greeting cards
scrapbook pages
decorations
crafting
cutting designs
embossing
postcards
certificates
collagraph prints (80#)
monotype
screen printing
risograph printing
paper marbling

Traits

folds easily (scoring recommended for cleaner fold)
punches and cuts well
heavier feel

Premium Basis Weights

Includes GSM

100 lb Cover

270

110 lb Cover

298

Common Uses

signs
posters
frame matting
luxury greeting cards
mixed media projects
wedding invitations
postcards
diplomas
menus
index cards
manila folders
luxury business cards
letterpress
tags
collagraph prints (100#)
engraving
embossing
intaglio/etching
stencil
lithography
screen printing
typography
watercolor
monotype

Traits

must be scored before folding
not easily printed at home
sturdy

Ultra Basis Weights

Includes GSM

130 lb Cover

350

140 lb Cover

379

130 lb Double Thick Cover

Common Uses

luxury invitations
cards
letterpress
luxury business cards
packaging (boxes, bags)
hang tags
menus
coasters
watercolor

Traits

must be scored before folding
not easily printed at home
very sturdy


Basis Weight 101

The weight of paper, also known as its "Basis Weight", is used to differentiate products within grades of paper. The grades that you'll see on our site are Text, Cover, & Bond. The term "basis" is used because the weight is "based" on how much 500 sheets of a set size (determined by grade) weighs.  

A 60 lb sheet in Cover is very different than a 60 lb sheet in text, because the dimensions for the basis weight are different. One way to compare weights across grades is to use Grams per Square Meter (GSM). This reduces the need to call out the grade when specifying basis weight.  

Grade Ream Dimensions Lbs GSM

60 Lb Cover

22"x26"

60 Lb

90 GSM

60 Lb Text

25"x38"

60 Lb

162 GSM

65 Lb Bond

17"x22"

65 Lb

245 GSM

Glossary of Paper Terms

Paper Finishes (Texture)

FINISH

Paper surface characteristics, mainly imparted by mechanical means. Influenced by color, brightness, texture, and appearance.

ANTIQUE FINISH

Rough paper finish. Obtained by operating with reduced pressure during wet pressing and calendering

EMBOSSED

Patterned finish imparted to paper through an embosser, with subsequent calendering

LINEN

Finish resembling linen fabric. Obtained off-machine by compressing sheets of paper between alternate sheets of linen cloth or by embossing a continuous web with an engraved steel roll.

MATTE

Finish with good smoothness, but devoid of gloss. a.k.a "dead finish"

PARCHMENT

Dull, smooth, undulating surface finish resembling true parchment. True parchment is made of animal skins, French parchment is made using wood pulp.  

SATIN FINISH

Smooth paper surface suggestive of satin.

VELLUM

Dull, toothy finish. Typically applied to text papers.

Paper Furnishes (Pulp)

ELEMENTAL CHLORINE FREE (ECF)

Pulp produced without using elemental chlorine for bleaching. This method significantly reduces the amount of harmful waste produced by the pulp bleaching process and prevents carcinogenic byproducts.  
All French papers are produced ECF. 

RECYCLED FIBER

Pulp fiber with a previous history of incorporation in paper or paperboard products.  

POST CONSUMER RECYCLED FIBER
(PCW)

Pulp fiber with a previous history of incorporation in paper or paperboard products that have been collected from consumers (schools, businesses, hospitals, offices, stores, residences).  

Paper Properties

ACID-FREE

Paper which contains no acidity. Acid-free paper typically has good aging characteristics and has no detrimental effect on materials that are in contact with it.
All French paper is acid-free and can be considered archival quality.  

CALIPER

Thickness of a paper sheet, measured under specified conditions.
Calipers for French Papers can be found under "French Collections Explained" 

ELEMENTAL CHLORINE FREE (ECF)

Pulp produced without using elemental chlorine for bleaching. This method significantly reduces the amount of harmful waste produced by the pulp bleaching process and prevents carcinogenic byproducts.  
All French papers are produced ECF. 

GRAIN DIRECTION

Direction of predominant fiber alignment, usually the machine direction. The directionality of paper must be taken into account in measuring such paper strength properties as tear, tensile, and folding endurance. Grain direction can also influence the curl of a cut sheet if it is stretched or moistened.  
French grain directions are indicated by the dimensional order of the sheet size. For example, 25x38 would indicated the grain is long in the 38" direction. If the size is listed as 38x25, the grain will be long in the 25" direction.

SIZING/SIZED

Treatment of paper to resist liquid penetration, either by means of wet-end additives (rosin/alum) or by surface application (starch solution).
All French papers have received a sizing surface treatment.  

SMOOTHNESS

Index of paper surface irregularities, usually determined by measuring under standardized conditions the rate of presurized air flow between the paper surface and a solid ring pressed against the surface. Roughness & smoothness are inversely related.  
Smoothness for French Papers can be found under "French Collections Explained"  

SOY INK COMPATIBLE

Soy and vegetable products are used in ink for their oils, which act as the vehicle for the ink pigments. Soy and other vegetable-based inks which are less harmful to the environment than their petroleum-based counterparts.
All French papers are soy ink compatible.  

Paper Weights & Grades

BASIS WEIGHT

Weight of paper product per ream or per specified area. The existence of different ream sizes is a source of confusion when comparing basis weights for different products.

GRAMMAGE

Mass per unit area of paper, expressed as grams per square meter. Grammage is the preferred industry term as it is less confusing than "Basis Weight" or "substance"

BOND

High quality, hard-sized writing or printing paper, sometimes containing cotton fibers and often watermarked. In order to withstand handling and filing, the principal requirements are strength and durability.
FrenchPaper.com offers Bond papers manufactured by our sister mill, Finch Paper.

BRISTOL

General term for paperboards made either on a fourdrinier or multiply machines that are 0.006" or greater in thickness. Many coated and uncoated grades are available for indexing, printing, folders, post cards covers, etc.  
French does not manufacture any Bristol grades.  

COVER

Heavier-weight, fine quality, coated and uncoated printing papers made from high-grade wood or cotton fibers, available in a variety of grammages. Cover papers are used for the covers of brochures and catalogs, and also for such products as folders, cards, posters, menus, and more.  
French offers a wide variety of cover weight products, all are uncoated and made from wood pulp.  

TEXT

Fine-quality uncoated printing papers made from high-grade wood or cotton fibers, available in a variety of common grammages. They are used primarily for thee inside pages of books, brochures, and catalogs.
French offers a wide variety of text weight products, all are uncoated and made from wood pulp.