How to Choose Weight of Paper

What is the Right Paper Weight?

In general, fine business papers, printer papers and personal stationery range in weight from 20 lb. to 32 lb. The most common paper weight today is 20 lb.

One rule of thumb to follow is: The heavier the basic weight, the thicker the sheet. The thicker the sheet, the more impressive it feels.

20 lb. Bond

While Southworth does make 20 lb. papers, most of our papers are 24 lb. or higher, providing a more substantial feel and greater durability. 20 lb. papers are meant for internal memos and copies, or for reports that span many pages.

24 lb. Bond

When it comes to your company’s letterhead, reports, announcements, invitations, menus… 24 lb is the sweet spot. It has enough substance to stand up to frequent handling, it prints beautifully, and commands attention.

32 lb. Bond

When you really need to impress someone with a document as important as a résumé, a competitive business proposal or a long term legal contract, reach for the 32 lb. sheet. The statement that a premium weight document delivers can’t be denied, especially when combined with the crisp feel of 100% Cotton.

Aside from the impact factor you get from using heavier papers, they are also recommended for communications with lots of graphics, solids, and strongly saturated colors. Your images will display better and a heavyweight paper also allows for two sided printing without show-through due to its opacity.

65 lb. Cover Stock

 Southworth makes it easy to coordinate your company’s Stationery with Business Cards, Marketing Brochures or Report Covers in a matching Cover Weight. It’s also great for Menus, Trade Show Signs, or even for Craft Projects or School Presentations.

Envelope Weight

Are you confused about envelope choices?

For paper that is 24 lb. or higher, the correct envelope is one of equal weight to the paper. The correct envelope for paper up to 20 lb. should be one step heavier than the paper. For example, the proper envelope to use with a 20 pound paper would be one made from 24 pound paper. Southworth has a wide selection of #10 envelopes in 24 lb weight to match all our paper. We also produce 9 X 12 envelopes to enhance the importance of your document.

Southworth recommends that you never fold your résumé. Use 9 X 12 envelopes so that your credentials arrive in flat, pristine condition, demonstrating your professionalism and attention to detail.


Bond Text Metric Southworth Item #s Common Uses
20 lb 50 lb 74 g/m2 13C, 403C, 603C, 403E,33C, 403CR,31-220-10,31-720-10, 31-620-10, 35-120-10 Internal memos, File copies,Multi-page documents,Thesis papers
24 lb 60 lb 90 g/m2 14C, 404C, 454C, 31-224-10,554C,31,324-10,934C, 984C, R14CF,31,724-10, CT1R, 31-724-10 Letterhead, Stationery, Reports,Resumes, Pleadings, Menus,Legal Documents, Certificates,Invitations
32 lb 80 lb 120 g/m2 JD18C, J468C, J558C, J938C, J988C,RD18ACFLN, RD18CF, SWB2-01MCH Letterhead, Proposals, Contracts, Presentations, Resumes
  Cover Metric Southworth Item #s Common Uses
  65 lb 175 g/m2 Z430CK, BC554C, Z550CK, Z930CK,Z980CK,SWB2-01TY, AGNC-710 Brochures,  Report Covers, Menus, Sales Literature, Greeting Cards
  80 lb 215 g/m2 BC#11, BC#12, PF8, AGFP-710,SWB2-01FP Business Cards, Report Covers,Holders, Note Cards

 If you want to learn more, go to our Fine Paper Terminology page and our FAQ section. There you can also read about the difference between “writing” or “bond” paper weights versus “text” or “paper merchant” weights.

Paper Finish