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Paper weight is an important consideration in selecting fine stationery. In the United States, paper density is measured in terms of pounds (”#”) for a given quantity of uncut paper and in grams for most other countries of the world. For instance, paper for copy machines is generally 20# (twenty pounds). This measurement term was determined long ago as the weight of 500 sheets of uncut paper at a paper mill. Another mill-term that pops up occasionally is “two- or three-ply paper. “ This refers to sheets of 32-pound paper that are joined together to make heavier paper stock. For instance, 3-ply paper is the equivalent of 96# paper.

The best way to determine the paper weight that works best for you is to “feel it and bend it.” In general, quality letterhead stationery weighs between 24# to 32#, fold-over notes weigh 64# and card stock weighs between 96# and 120#. Formal invitations for weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvah can weigh anywhere from 96# to 240# depending on the effect you are seeking to obtain. Also, you frequently see different colored paper stock mounted on top of each other to create a layered effect for wedding and Bar/Bat Mitzvah invitations.

While most experienced stationers prefer slightly heavier paper stock, the “right” weight depends on the occasion and personal preferences. For instance, 96# business cards do not bend easily and convey an impression of substance. Nevertheless, many business people prefer business cards made of the more common 64# stock because they can get more cards into their wallet or business card case. Working closely with your Guild member stationer can help you determine the paper weight that works best for your circumstances.

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