Printing and writing paper

Printing and writing papers are paper grades used for newspapers, magazines, catalogs, books, notebooks, commercial printing, business forms, stationeries, copying and digital printing. About 1/3 of the total pulp and paper marked (in 2000) is printing and writing papers.[1] The pulp or fibers used in printing and writing papers are extracted from wood using a chemical or mechanical process.

In the United States printing and writing papers are separated into four main categories:[2]

  1. Uncoated Freesheet Paper
  2. Uncoated Mechanical Paper
  3. Coated Freesheet Paper
  4. Coated Mechanical Paper

Paper standards

The ISO 216:2007 is the current international standard for paper sizes, including writing papers and some types of printing papers. This standard describes the paper sizes under what the ISO calls the A, B, and C series formats.[3]

Not all countries follow ISO 216. North America, for instance, uses certain terms to describe paper sizes, such as Letter, Legal, Junior Legal, and Ledger or Tabloid.[4]

US Paper Sizes
Size Width x Height (mm) Width x Height (in) Aspect Ratio
Half Letter 140 x 216 mm 5.5 x 8.5 in 1:1.5455
Letter 216 x 279 mm 8.5 x 11.0 in 1:1.2941
Legal 216 x 356 mm 8.5 x 14.0 in 1:1.6471
Junior Legal 127 x 203 mm 5.0 x 8.0 in 1:1.6000
Ledger/Tabloid 279 x 432 mm 11.0 x 17.0 in 1:1.5455

Most types of printing papers also do not follow ISO standards but have features that conform with leading industry standards.[5] These include, among others, ink adhesion, light sensitivity, waterproofing, compatibility with thermal or PSA overlaminate, and glossy or matte finish.[5]

Additionally, the American National Standards Institute or ANSI also defined a series of paper sizes, with size A being the smallest and E the largest. These paper sizes have aspect ratios 1:1.2941 and 1:1.5455.[4]

ANSI Standard Paper Sizes
ANSI Paper Size Width x Height (mm) Width x Height (in) Aspect Ratio Closest ISO Size
A 216 x 279 mm 8.5 x 11.0 in 1:1.2941 A4
B 279 x 432 mm 11.0 x 17.0 in 1:1.5455 A3
C 432 x 559 mm 17.0 x 22.0 in 1:1.2941 A2
D 559 x 864 mm 22.0 x 34.0 in 1:1.5455 A1
E 864 x 1118 mm 34.0 x 44.0 in 1:1.2941 A0


SpecificationsMD/CDUnitLevel ALevel BMethod
Substancegsm80-12060-80TCVN 1270:2000
DurablemN.m2/gTCVN 3229:2000
strength ≥
mTCVN 1862:2000
Cobb 60
g/m22323TCVN 6726:2000
Brightness ISO ≥ %7870TCVN 1865:2000
Opacity %8585TCVN 6728:2000
280400TCVN 3226:2001
Ash content ≥ %33TCVN 1864:2001
 %7±17±1TCVN 1867:2001



The history of paper is often attributed to the Han dynasty (25-220 AD) when Cai Lun, a Chinese court official and inventor, made paper sheets using the “bark of trees, remnants of hemp, rags of cloth, and fishing nets.”[6] Cai Lun's method of papermaking received praise during his time for offering a more convenient alternative to writing on silk or bamboo tablets, which were the traditional materials in ancient Chinese writing.[7]

On the other hand, archeological evidence supports that the ancient Chinese military had used paper over a hundred years before Cai Lun's contribution[7] and that maps from early 2nd century BCE were also made with paper.[6] With this, it appears that what Cai Lun accomplished is not an invention but an improvement in the papermaking process. Today, even with the presence of modern tools and machines for papermaking, most processes still involve the traditional steps that Cai Lun employed, namely the process of soaking felted fiber sheets in water, draining the water, and then drying the fiber into thin sheets.[8]

In 1690, the very first paper mill in America was established by William Rittenhouse.[9] The mill became the largest manufacturer of paper in America for over a hundred years until other paper mills sprang up, including the paper mill by William Bradford which supplied paper to the New York Gazette.[10]


  1. Paulapuro, Hannu (2000). "Chapter 1". Paper and Board grades. Papermaking Science and Technology. 18. Finland: Fapet Oy. pp. 14–51. ISBN 952-5216-18-7.
  2. "Printing and Writing Paper". American Forest & Paper Association. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  3. "International Paper Sizes & Formats". Paper Sizes: International Paper Sizes and Formats. 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  4. "US Paper Sizes". Paper Sizes: International Paper Sizes & Formats. 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  5. Santos, F. (2020). "Printing Papers: Choose the Right One". Engineer Warehouse Learning Center. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  6. "Origins of Paper". Cabinet. n.d. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  7. "Early papermaking in China". Books Garden. n.d. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  8. "Cai Lun Biography". Biography Online. 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  9. Aithal, S. (2016). "A Study on History of Paper and Possible Paper Free World". International Journal of Management, IT and Engineering. 6.
  10. "William Rittenhouse". US History. n.d. Retrieved 30 July 2020.