# Guide to Standard Printer Paper Thickness

Paper is cut out of large sheets or templates that are a specific weight. The weight of the sheet will determine how thick the sheet of paper is. So, how thick is the typical sheet of paper used for printing documents?

The typical 75- to 90-GSM sheet of printing paper will measure about 0.004 inches thick. This is determined by dividing the thickness of a 2-inch ream by the 500 sheets it comes with.

In this guide, I’ll explain in more detail what GSM means and how it affects the weight of paper. I’ll also go into detail about the various thicknesses of different paper GSM ratings and what they’re used for.

## What Is GSM?

If you take a look at the packaging of a ream of printing paper, you might notice how it will most likely not mention the overall weight of the product. Instead, what it will show is the GSM rating. What does GSM actually mean?

GSM stands for grams per square meter. So, if you were to align the sheets of paper into a perfect 1-meter square, all of the sheets combined would add up to 75 grams.

What the GSM rating actually shows is the weight of the template sheet of paper. Since paper is trimmed to size, the template sheet will be used as the basis for evaluating how heavy or light the paper is. So, you could end up with a letter-sized (8.5 × 11 inches) or legal-sized (8.4 × 14 inches) sheets of paper that are derived from the same sheet template.

Since the GSM figure measures how heavy a sheet of paper is per square meter, you can figure out that the higher the GSM rating is, the heavier the sheet of paper will be. For instance, printing paper is usually between 75 and 90 GSM, whereas photo paper is somewhere in the 180- to 200-GSM range.

## Printing Paper Thicknesses

Something else you’ll notice on paper reams is that they don’t mention the thickness of individual sheets. They’ll mostly display the surface area of the sheet in inches or centimeters/millimeters, but we will have to figure out the thickness of each sheet on our own. Luckily, basic math is all we need to figure this out.

The most common thickness found for 500-sheet reams of printing paper, minus the thickness of the package, is 2 inches, give or take a few millimeters either way. So, to calculate the thickness of a sheet of printing paper cut from 75- or 90-GSM sheets, we can input the variables in the following formula.

• Thickness per Sheet = Thickness of Ream ÷ Sheet Count
• Thickness per Sheet = 2 inches ÷ 500
• Thickness per Sheet = 0.004 inches

Please note that the 0.004-inch figure only relates to 75- or 90-GSM sheets of paper. If you choose a thinner sheet of paper that is, say, 60 GSM, it will be a fraction of an inch thinner. If you choose heavier paper—i.e., sheets with a higher GSM rating—then the individual sheets will be marginally thicker.

## What is the US Customary Equivalent of GSM?

A direct way to convert GSM to the US customary equivalent is by measuring ounces per square yard, which would mean 75 GSM is equal to 2.21201 ounces per square yard. However, this isn’t the exact way paper manufacturers weigh their products.

What you’ll typically find on a ream of printing paper is a poundage rating. For instance, this ream of letter-sized paper from HP is rated at 20 pounds. However, this doesn’t mean a single ream is 20 pounds heavy.

Again, the weight of sheets of printing paper is weighed by its stock or template sheet. Letter-sized paper (8.5 × 11 inches) is taken from 17 × 22-inch templates. The 20-pound figure relates to the weight of 500 template-sized sheets of paper. 500 17 × 22-inch sheets would weigh 20 pounds.

Since you can cut the stock sheet into 4 letter-sized sheets, that means a ream consisting of 500 sheets of letter-sized paper, which means its weight would be equal to a quarter of the stock sheets. So, a 500-sheet ream of letter printing paper is roughly 5 pounds.

## Common Paper GSM and Their Uses

Here, I’ll quickly go over the most common paper GSM ratings and what those sheets are used for.

60 GSM—This is one of the lightest paper grades available. It’s mainly used for photocopying or printing books. Since its lightweight, the cost per sheet is less than typical printing paper, which means books printed on 60-GSM sheets can cost considerably less.

70-75 GSM—This is at the lower end of office paper weight grades. In terms of looks, it’s nearly indistinguishable from higher-quality printing paper, but it has a tendency to bend more easily. This weight grade is typically used for internal business documents.

80-110 GSM—This is the range that most office printing paper falls in. While still flexible, it’s much less transparent when held up to a light, and it can hold ink without fading or bleeding as quickly as lower-grade paper weights.

150 GSM—This is the range that most office printing paper falls in. While still flexible, it’s much less transparent when held up to a light, and it can hold ink without fading or bleeding as quickly as lower-grade paper weights.

180-200 GSM—This paper weight grade is used mainly for printing photographs. It will typically have a glossy finish. While still bendy, it takes considerably more effort to crease than printing paper.

250-300 GSM—This paper weight grade is used mainly for printing photographs. It will typically have a glossy finish. While still bendy, it takes considerably more effort to crease than printing paper.

250-300 GSM—This paper weight grade is used mainly for printing photographs. It will typically have a glossy finish. While still bendy, it takes considerably more effort to crease than printing paper.

350-400 GSM—Any sheet of paper that falls into this weight grade is known as cardstock. Flashcards, index cards, business cards, etc., will typically be printed on these sheets.

BaronCooke

Baron Cooke has been writing and editing for 7 years. He grew up with an aptitude for geometry, statistics, and dimensions. He has a BA in construction management and also has studied civil infrastructure, engineering, and measurements. He is the head writer of measuringknowhow.com