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Paper Weight Demystified: Understanding gsm and the Importance of Thickness vs. Weight in the UK

If you’ve ever tried to buy paper for your printer, you’ve probably noticed that the paper comes in different weights. But what does that mean exactly, and how do you know which weight of paper to choose for your needs?

In the United Kingdom, paper weight is measured in grams per square metre (g/sm). This refers to the weight of a single sheet of paper that measures one square metre. So if you have a sheet of paper that is 1 metre by 1 metre, and it weighs 80 grams, then its weight is 80 g/sm.

It’s important to note that paper weight is not the same as paper thickness. In fact, you can have a thick paper that has a low weight, or a thin paper that has a high weight. The thickness of paper is measured in microns, which is a unit of measurement for length that is equal to one millionth of a metre.

So, why does paper weight matter? There are a few different reasons. First, paper weight can affect the durability of the paper. Generally, a higher weight paper will be more durable than a lower weight paper. This means that it will be less likely to tear or crease, and it will hold up better over time.

Another reason that paper weight matters is because it can affect the appearance of the printed material. A higher weight paper will generally feel more substantial and luxurious than a lower weight paper. This can be important if you’re printing something like business cards or invitations, where you want to make a good impression.

Now that we know what paper weight is and why it matters, let’s take a look at some common paper weights and what they’re used for:

Paper Weight (g/sm)Typical Uses
60-80Most standard printer paper. Good for printing documents, emails, and web pages.
100-120Slightly heavier paper. Good for brochures, flyers, and posters. Still lightweight, but with more substance than standard printer paper.
200-250Heavy weight paper. Used for business cards, invitations, and greeting cards. Luxurious feel and more durable than lighter weight papers.
300+Extremely heavy weight paper. Used for art prints, high-end business cards, and packaging. Very durable and has a substantial feel.

When choosing the right paper weight for your needs, it’s important to consider both the purpose of the printed material and the printing method that will be used. For example, if you’re printing something that will be folded, you may want to choose a slightly lighter weight paper to avoid creasing. On the other hand, if you’re printing something that will be handled frequently, like a business card, you may want to choose a heavier weight paper for added durability.

In conclusion, paper weight is an important factor to consider when choosing the right paper for your needs. It’s measured in grams per square metre (g/sm) and refers to the weight of a single sheet of paper that measures one square metre. Paper weight is not the same as paper thickness, which is measured in microns. When choosing the right paper weight for your needs, consider the purpose of the printed material and the printing method that will be used. With the right paper weight, you can ensure that your printed material looks and feels just right.

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