Paper Weight


This post started while I was looking for a new printer and all the weights of paper that the printers could handle were in g/m2. I’m a Print Designer by trade and I am very familiar with papers and their weights (in my local vernacular), ie. 32lb text, 14pt, 80lb cover, etc. But I had no idea what the paper of a certain poundage (is that a word?) was equaled to in g/m2? Or what on earth was a ‘g/m2’. And if you shop for paper like I do, that important info. If all that sounded like gibberish, here goes…

Illustration from
Illustration from

Paper comes in different weights or thickness. This weight is calculated by weighing 500 ‘parent sheets’ of a particular paper. A parent sheet is a full size sheet of paper measuring up to 26″ x 40″ or 1 square meter for ISO sizes (ISO is the International Organization for Standardization which officially uses the metric system). And you should note that the USA along with Myanmar and Liberia are the only countries that have some adoption of the metric system.(1) (Sidebar – growing up metric, I think we should convert, it is so much easier, but back to paper).

So based on the thickness of the sheet of paper, 500 sheets of it will have a certain weight and this is the number used to classify the paper’s weight, no matter the final cut size, be it letter sized or A4. Now the g/m2 makes sense to me – grams per meter squared. But I still need to convert the weights because I buy my paper in pounds, not grams. Lucky me found a converter at Desktop Supplies. Please note though it says ‘lb’ after the number entry box, the drop down menu gives other options for the original measurement, including metric.

Now I’m ready to go shop for my printer.



This post was originally published on a previous blog by the same author on 8/5/2011. All references have been updated for this post.

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