Industrywide standard definitions do not exist, but most
papers fall into one of five general categories:
• BOOK: general-purpose
papers for catalogs, magazines, direct mail, and many other kinds of
commercial and publication printing.
• WRITING: used mainly for stationery.
• COVER: thick, heavy stocks for the
of booklets, manuals, etc.
• BRISTOL: thick, stiff papers for
cards, file folders, and other items requiring a durable stock
• OTHER: papers that do not fit under
any of the first four headings, such as onionskin, carbonless
Assigning quality levels to paper is also arbitrary, but
the following designations are generally accepted:
• The numbers 1 through 5 denote quality grades for
coated papers, with #1 being the highest. Coated #1, #2, and #3 papers
are free sheets. Coated #4 papers include free sheets and groundwoods.
Coated #5 papers are groundwoods. The choice depends on the degree of
print quality required. For example, a magazine might use a #2 or #3
sheet for its cover and a #4 or #5 paper for the inside pages.
• Other kinds of paper are quality-graded with letters, numbers, and
words such as "premium" and "super-premium." Again, no
standard terminology exists.
Paper is sold by weight in the "basic size" for its
grade. The basic sizes for the four most common grades are:
• BOOK: 25"x38"
• WRITING: 17"x22"
• COVER: 20"x26"
• BRISTOL: 22.5"x28.5"