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How Is Paper Thickness Measured?

Updated: Jan 2

Although it might seem like a simple piece of paper and nothing more, there is more than meets the eye. If your business is interested in printing something out, it will be beneficial to learn how is paper thickness measured. It will help you make the right choice and turn your marketing idea into reality.


The paper thickness and weight are some of the primal aspects of every marketing print or publishing project. The paper thickness can affect ink absorption, color vibrancy, and durability. Besides, different printing techniques require specific paper thicknesses to ensure optimal results. That’s why we decided to share our expert tips with you. We employ these techniques, so you can give them a try, too!


How Is Paper Thickness Measured
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Stepan Bormotov

How Is Paper Thickness Measured?


In the printing industry, we are familiar with several ways to measure the paper’s thickness. As for you as a business, it can come quite handy to know how is paper measured.


Many of our clients find it extremely useful when they want to measure the thickness of printed materials they already have. If you have a clear picture of the technical characteristics of your printed material, a commercial printing company like ours can make your ideas turn into reality more efficiently. 


But before we jump to it, we feel obligated to explain the US printing paper measurement system.


First of all, you should know that the paper thickness is also referred to as a caliper. It is measured in points, and one point equals 0.001″. For instance, if the paper is 0.035 inches thick, it will be labeled as 35-point paper. 


Because the metric system offers more precision, many people prefer using it for measuring paper thickness due to its smaller increments. The metric system uses a micrometer/micron (µm) for thickness and grams per square meter (g/m2 or GSM) for paper weight.


Also, you should be aware that whichever way of measuring you choose that involves measuring a stack of paper, you might not get a 100% accurate sheet thickness. This is mainly because pressure and humidity may compress the paper and result in inaccurate measurements.


So how do you know the thickness of paper? There are multiple ways to measure it, but we will reveal only the easiest and most effective ones.


Check the packaging


The first and most obvious way to find out the thickness of the paper is to check the packaging of the printing paper you have purchased. Typically, the packaging will include all specifications, including thickness, weight, and size.


Measuring with a digital caliper


One of the easiest ways to measure the thickness of anything, including paper, is by using a digital caliper. You can also use a manual caliper, but it might be difficult to read the exact paper thickness.


To measure the paper thickness, you should follow these steps:


  1. Reset the tool to 0 by closing its jaws.

  2. Take the piece of paper.

  3. Open the jaws of the tool.

  4. Put the paper between the jaws.

  5. Close the jaws of the digital caliper so they are tightly holding the paper.

  6. Read the measurement displayed on the tool.


If you are measuring a really thin piece of paper, we recommend you measure a stack of paper instead of one sheet. You will get more accurate results. So how do you calculate the thickness of paper If you choose to measure like this?


For instance, if you measured a stack that has a total of 500 sheets, you should divide the measurement you got by 500. The result you will get is the paper’s thickness.


Measuring with a ruler


If you don’t have a caliper at your office, you most certainly have a ruler. For this method of measuring the paper thickness, you will need a ruler and your calculator. Just like the caliper method, it is best if you measure a stack of paper if you know exactly how many sheets it has.


Place the entire stack of paper on a flat surface and measure its thickness. Then, to get the thickness of the paper, you should divide the amount you read on the ruler by the number of sheets in the stack.


Measuring with a ruler
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: RossHelen

Printing Paper Thickness


The two most important paper characteristics, besides the type, are the paper weight and thickness. To make things easier for you, we made informational charts so you can have a general idea of how is paper measured in size and thickness.


Keep in mind that the measures mentioned below can be used only as a guide, as they might differ according to the paper type and brand.


Coated printing paper thickness chart


Weight (grams per square meter)

Thickness (micrometers)

70 GSM

60 µm

80 GSM

70 µm

90 GSM

78 µm

100 GSM

87 µm

115 GSM

98 µm

130 GSM

110 µm

150 GSM

128 µm

170 GSM

145 µm

200 GSM

175 µm

300 GSM

275 µm

400 GSM

380 µm

As a reference, one micrometer is approximately 0.0028 points.


Uncoated printing paper thickness chart


Weight (grams per square meter)

Thickness (micrometers)

70 GSM

90 µm

80 GSM

100 µm

90 GSM

112 µm

100 GSM

125 µm

120 GSM

150 µm

140 GSM

175 µm

160 GSM

190 µm

170 GSM

212 µm

210 GSM

250 µm

300 GSM

350 µm

400 GSM

480 µm

If we compare the two charts for uncoated and coated paper, we will notice that uncoated paper tends to be thicker than its counterpart.


Importance of Knowing the Paper Thickness


For all businesses, whether they are looking for companies to print their marketing campaign or have a book printed before publishing, knowing the paper thickness is crucial. The paper type and thickness will influence the overall quality and appearance of the printed materials on multiple levels.


First of all, as a company in the printing paper industry, we know better than anyone that the thickness of the paper influences the print quality. We can help you select the most appropriate paper thickness so you can achieve the desired print results with excellent color vibrancy and text clarity.


Furthermore, your business should pick the thickness of the paper according to the appearance and feel you desire for your printed materials. To illustrate, we always recommend using thicker paper if you are interested in a more compelling experience. In addition, the thicker paper typically has higher quality and enhanced durability.


Ultimately, you should keep in mind that the paper thickness can limit the printing techniques that we use to create your prints. There are certain printing techniques that specifically require thick papers in order to achieve optimal results.


Importance of Knowing the Paper Thickness
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Stepan Bormotov

Conclusion


When you prepare your marketing or publishing strategy, one of the main choices you will need to make is determining the type of paper you will use and its thickness. That’s why it is important to understand how is paper thickness measured so you can make an informed decision.


If you are a perfectionist and want your business to reach the target audience with high-quality prints, ensure you contact us. Our expert team will help you with every aspect of your project and deliver your printed products in a timely manner.

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