When you think of paper weights, stock types, and paper sizes, the thought that comes to your mind probably isn’t ooh, that’s exciting.

However, having a strong understanding of these things will help you save money, make better document presentations for your internal and client-facing documents, and take full advantage of the many wonderful features of your Xerox multifunction printer for a more efficient, empowered workplace. Now that is exciting.

The best example to show in no uncertain terms why all this stuff really does matter is this one: imagine for a moment that someone hands you a business card. The card feels cheap. Light. Flimsy. Sure, their relevant contact information is on the card, but something about it just isn’t right. It sounds a bit silly, but in practice the reality is that your opinion of that person’s business acumen might be negatively impacted—after all, if they don’t have a good business card, what else might they be doing wrong? Where else have corners been cut?

As you can see, choosing the right kind of paper for your project is important. Let’s discuss some of the key factors that make up a sheet of paper: weight, stock type, and how size plays a part in these considerations.

What's in a Sheet? Understanding Paper Weights, Stock Types, and SizesWhat Exactly is Paper Weight? Why Does Paper Weight Matter?

Paper weight is best understood as the material weight of the paper—this metric doesn’t change regardless of the material or size of sheet, making it easy to recognize different weights, even if the sheet size or material is different.

You’ll usually see paper weight measured in pounds or grams per square meter, which are lbs or gsm, respectively. Paper weight measured in lbs is determined by how much a stack of 500 sheets of 17”x22” paper weighs. Paper weight measured in gsm is the weight of each square meter of paper in grams.

Heavier paper feels stronger, while lighter paper feels more flexible or “crinkly.” Think of the difference between a book cover and newspaper—these are both paper, just at different weights (and different stock, which we’ll examine next). Choosing the right paper weight for your project can make all the difference in professionalism and functionality.

Paper Stock Types: What to Use and When

Paper stock is the term used to describe the type of paper being used. Like the example above, a book cover is different than newspaper.