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The Paper Library




~Paper Terms & Definitions~

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All the terms listed here are in some way related to paper or paper products. The definitions are kept simple and easy to understand. Pictures and links to various examples are used in many of the terms. In order to get back to this page you should be able to use your "Back" button. This page is being updated all the time as we discover more words that need defining.

For an in-depth knowledge of any words and topics given here it is best to visit your local library and look under Industrial Paper Manufacturing and Paper Making.


All terms are listed alphabetically

This section is N through S

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T-Z

Neutral pH - Offset papers manufactured with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0 on a scale of .0 to 14.0. Neutral pH factors are built into paper as a minimum value, to increase stability and improve permanence for use in printing of archival records.

 

Opaque- When a paper is referred to as "opaque" it means that no light will pass through it at all. A linen cover stock that is a rich navy linen is going to be considered an opaque paper.

 

Opaque Ink - An ink that conceals all color beneath it. Note: Most inkjet inks are NOT opaque- this means if you have a black piece of paper and want to print a pale yellow on it you will end up with mud.



Paper Mill- This is where a very large percentage of our commercially produced paper comes from here in the US. There are some very large ones and there are a few family run mills here as well (not enough in our opinion).

The paper mills turn out paper by the ton and unfortunately discontinue terrific papers when they do not sell as expected to the mass public.

However, the mills have taken more notice of the crafts industry in the past 6 or 7 years and are fortunately producing more interesting papers than they used to.


Parchment- This is a paper that has been around a long long time. It has not evolved too much over the years except that is now available in more colors than it was 30 years ago.

You have undoubted seen it many times in many places. It used to be a favorite for resume paper, restaurant menus, inside pages of books and hundreds of other usages.

It comes in cover and text stationary weight in a variety of sizes.

It is easy to recognize as it has a sort of mottled look to it.



Plastic Coated Glossy-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here


pt. or Point- This is one way of expressing the thickness of a paper. There are lots of other ways too (unfortunately). It can be confusing but once you have worked with paper a bit you just kind of get used to it.

When you see a paper that is described as 7pt, 8pt, 9pt,10pt,11pt or 12pt. you are talking about a cover stock. Paper that is 7 or 8pt is pretty flimsy but it is still considered a cover stock. A standard nice thick cardstock is a 10 or 11pt thickness. Greeting cards are generally made from paper that is between 10 and 12pt.

It is described this way as it is no longer a "weighed" paper. Instead it is a measured paper (using a paper caliper). The one shown below has been in our family for over 60 years.



 

Post-Consumer Fiber - Paper that has reached its intended end-user and then discarded. The paper recovered from curbside collections is considered to be post-consumer. Trim and scraps from the print shop are not. The print shop is not the "intended end-user," but is adding value to the paper that will eventually reach the end- user.

 

Pre-Consumer Fiber - Paper that is recovered before it reaches the end-user. Typically this includes converters, printers and others who are adding value but are not the intended end-user. Pre-consumer does not include mill manufacturing broke as pre-consumer, but it may include mill scrap from finishing and converting operations.





Pounds or lb. -
This is one way of expressing the thickness of a paper. There are lots of other ways too (unfortunately). It can be confusing but once you have worked with paper you just kind of get used to it.

When you hear that a paper is 65lb then you are talking about a coverstock (a little on the thin side but not quite "flimsy"). When you hear that a paper is 80lb cover then it is a nice standard thick sheet of paper. Greeting cards are generally made from cardstock that is 80lb or thicker (however casual cards can be made from the thinner 65lb cardstock).

If you have paper that is 100lb or more then you are looking as some very thick cover stocks. Many duplex papers are in this range as they are actually two sheets of paper that have been laminated into one.

(Want an in depth description? Send us an e-mail at CPG@pacific.net)

 

Pulp - Cellulose fiber material produced by chemical or mechanical means from which paper and paperboard is manufactured. Origins of this cellulose fiber are many and can include wood, cotton, straw, jute, bagasse, bamboo, hemp, various leaf fibers, reeds, etc… There are many mechanical and chemical means of separating the fiber from its original sources.


Recycled- When paper is called "recycled" it means that it includes a certain amount of "post consumer fiber" or "post consumer waste". That can be trimmings, newspapers, chip board, office paper or other used paper.

The percentage amount of this type of recycled matter varies greatly. However, there is a minimum amount that must be included for a paper to claim that it is "recycled". That minimum is 20% at the present*.

Some papers boast that they are 70% or even 100% recycled. You can always request to know just how much of a recycled paper is "post consumer fiber" from the paper mills. It is something that they legally must tell if they advertise it as "recycled paper".

This is a rapidly changing subject as more and more pressure is being put on the mills to use recycled materials. For an in depth look into this part of the industry you should visit your local library.

*We have noticed this figure change in the past years. It may not be totally accurate at the time you read this.


Relaxing- This word in relation to paper means- the act of allowing a paper to relax or uncurl.

For example if you get sent a roll of handmade paper in a tube it will retain a certain amount of curl. You can force it flat or press it flat or simply let it "relax" slowly. Letting a paper relax can be the most effective way as it is essentially allowing the paper the chance to adjust to the temperature and humidity of the room. When it does adjust it will tend to relax and straighten out.

Sometimes it will happen rather quickly and with other papers it may take quite awhile.


Reverse Scoring-
When we talk about scoring we are talking about the act of creating a line or depression in the paper that will help the paper fold. For example if you want to make a folded card it is best to "score" the card where it is going to fold and then fold it. If you simple fold it without a score first your crease may look very unprofessional or the paper may even crack. (see scoring for photo sample)

The "reverse score" is sometimes used on papers that are glossy and plastic coated. You can also reverse score duplex and any paper that tends to crack when you fold it. They way you accomplish this is instead of scoring what will be the inside of your card as is usually done, you score the outside and then fold it back on itself.

You can score paper using a machine or press or you can score using a very dull knife (like a butter knife) and a ruler. Some people like to use Bone Folders. However you accomplish the score it needs to be deep enough that the paper will want to fold along that line easily.


Ridge Finish-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here


Rulers and Measurements- If you missed out on learning about Rulers and Measurements in school here is a refresher course for you. If you were "bad at math" then feel free to take another shot at it. We have kept it simple for you!

Shown enlarged so you can really see the little marks. The best way to do this is to grab a ruler at home so you can see it first hand in front of you.

Written as 1"

Written as 1/2"

Written as 1/4"

Written as 1/8"

Written as 1/16"

Other facts:

When you write the words One Foot out you write it like this: 1' - 0" (the ' mark means foot and the " mark means inches).

There are 12 inches (12") in one foot (1'- 0")

There are 3 feet (3'-0") in one yard (1 yrd.)

Knowing your measurements makes crafting a much more pleasant experience!


Satin/Silk Finish-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here


Scoring- When we talk about scoring we are talking about the act of creating a line or depression in the paper that will help the paper fold. For example if you want to make a folded card it is best to "score" the card where it is going to fold and then fold it. If you simply fold it your crease may look very unprofessional or the paper may even crack.

You can score paper using a machine or press or you can score using a very dull knife (like a butter knife) and a ruler. Some people like to use Bone Folders to score with. However you accomplish the score it needs to be deep enough that the paper will want to fold along that line easily.

Scored Card Easy to fold!


Smooth Finish-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here


Stationery Weight- This is a slang way of saying "Text, Bond or Writing" weight paper. It is used by us (and others) due to the fact that the majority of people do not understand those other words but do know the understand the word "stationery".

If you hear the words Stationery Weight, you know that what is being described is a thin piece of paper commonly used to write letters, photocopy, make documents or resumes.


Stencil/Blind Embossing-
The look achieved by "blind embossing" is a raised or depressed surface in the paper. When you are working with brass or plastic stencils and are pressing a pattern into paper using a hand tool that is called Blind or Stencil Embossing. There are also large machines that printers use that will achieve that same effect on a mass production scale.



Storage-
Keep your paper and envelopes cool and dry. Paper does not like moisture or heat as it tends to curl and ripple when exposed to it. The adhesive gum on envelopes tends to moisten and stick in heat and humidity. The idea temperature is 75 % or less. You would not want your papers to be exposed to excessive heats of 90% or more for too long. If you live in a high humidity area be aware of where you store your papers!

The best thing you can do is to keep your papers out of direct sunlight. You may want to invest in some nice boxes where you can store your papers.

However, the most important thing about paper is that it is STORED FLAT! You never want to store your papers on edge or on their end. They will ripple and curl right away regardless of heat or moisture. When you store your paper make sure that it is always stored perfectly flat- do not let edges hang off or you will find your paper starting to bend.

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