India Paper

India paper reduces bulk in thick publications

Bible Paper
India paper is also known as bible paper (and why isn't it also called dictionary paper or hymnal paper?) | Image by Ryk Neethling CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

India paper is an extremely thin, lightweight, opaque printing paper used for printing books that have many pages. The paper is highly durable, even though it is thin. It is usually made from 25 percent cotton or linen rags or flax in combination with chemical wood pulp. Also known as Bible paper, India paper typically has a long life. It is a premium grade of book paper.

Because it is thin and lightweight while also being opaque, India paper is suitable for books that would be far too heavy and bulky if printed on heavier paper.

Yet it is durable enough to withstand the heavy use typical of the Bibles and dictionaries printed on India paper.

Working With India Paper

Not all commercial printing companies carry or print on India paper because the lightweight stock is difficult to handle and spoilage is high. Extreme care must be taken with it at every stage of production. However, if you are designing for a book that has a large number of pages, it is worth looking into finding a printer who specializes in working with India paper. 

India paper is suitable for offset printing. The digital files are set up just as they would be for any weight paper, and the paper can accommodate text and four-color process printing. Because the paper is extremely light weight, areas with heavy ink coverage should use under color removal. If you use a commercial printer familiar with printing on India paper, the staff should know this requirement and handle it for you.

Just to be safe, ask the printer about any adjustments you as a designer should make to the images in your digital files ahead of time.

Because India paper is so thin, the edges may tend to curl. If you specify an India paper for a project, choose the highest quality available. It will be the least likely to show visible bleed-through from the back of a sheet to the front.

Uses for India Paper

Typical uses for India paper in addition to Bibles include:

  • prayer books
  • hymnals
  • dictionaries
  • encyclopedias
  • insurance rate books
  • deluxe guides
  • multi-fold package inserts