When to Use Book Paper in Publishing

It's Not Just for Books Anymore

Close up detail of multiple sheets of paper
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Book paper is a general term to describe a type of paper suitable for printing magazines, newsletters, books and many other types of publications. It may be uncoated or coated, and it comes in different weights, but it does not include newsprint, bristol or other cover weights of paper. 

More opaque than bond paper and good for two-sided printing, book paper is also characterized by excellent folding qualities and durability.

Book papers are especially suitable for offset printing due to increased resistance to water and picking. Most book paper can be used on offset presses; it is also called offset paper for this reason.

Types of Papers

  • Bond (or Writing) is usually used for business forms, letterhead and in the office copier. 
  • Book (or Offset) is the most used type of printing paper, both uncoated and coated. It is slightly heavier than bond paper and more opaque.
  • Text offers a variety of colors and textures in a mid-range weight.
  • Cover is used for covers, postcards and other heavyweight printed pieces. It comes in a wide range of finishes and colors.
  • Tag, Bristol and Index are smooth heavyweight papers for file folders and tags.

About Paper Weight

Paper weight is determined by the actual weight of 500 sheets of a large parent sheet, which is then cut down to size. Book paper has a large basis size of 25 inches by 38 inches.

When 500 sheets of this large paper weighs 60 pounds, the smaller sheets cut from this large sheet are called 60 lb. paper.

The standard office copy paper is 20 lb. bond paper, which is the equivalent of 50 lb. offset text paper. Many books are printed on 60 lb. offset text paper, which is heavier than office copy paper.

 

Offset Paper Uses

Because offset paper comes in several weights and finishes, you need to choose the right paper for your print project. If you are working on a catalog that is printed in black ink and is mostly text, you should be fine using a commodity grade, uncoated 60 lb. offset. If your piece has full-color photos, don't even consider an uncoated sheet. Go with a 70 lb. (or heavier) gloss coated sheet. If you are uncomfortable making this decision, ask your commercial printer for guidance. The company should be able to show you samples of each paper under consideration and indicate the price differences.

Book paper is the primary paper for books and most graphic arts projects including:

  • Brochures
  • Annual reports
  • Marketing materials
  • Newsletters
  • Booklets
  • Manuals
  • Magazines