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The Paper Glossary

Maybe you know every corner of the terminology in our paper business area? Maybe you’re very familiar with the terminology referring to the properties of paper, but know less about the expressions used in sales? If the office paper business is all new to you, this glossary can help you get to know it. No need to pretend you know all about reams and grammage nor opacity. Let us present this quick-glossary of the world of office paper. Go explore!

Brightness measures the amount of reflectance of a specific wavelength of blue light in a paper. Brightness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 – the higher the number, the brighter the paper.

Bulk is a cubic measure which describes how bulky or compact paper is or how much air it contains. Bulk can be calculated by dividing the thickness of the sheet by the basis weight. High bulk sheets have fewer sheets per inch than low bulk. Density expresses how compact the paper is or what the weight of a unit volume paper is.

Calendering is the production process of smoothing and compressing paper by passing it through heated rolls. Coated paper is calendered to provide a smooth, glossy finish.

As one of the last steps of manufacturing paper, you may add a filler which covers up the small crevices between the fibers. A coated sheet absorbs less ink than an uncoated one since more ink stays on top of the paper and the glossier surface makes the printed text or image look sharper. The most common coated options are glossy, matt or silk. As there is no filling between the fibers, uncoated paper is generally rougher and more porous, thus very absorbent. 

ColorLok® technology fixes ink pigments on the paper's surface, for fast drying prints that are crisp, clear, and free from smears and smudges.

Cut sizes – A series
The dimensions of the A series paper sizes are defined by the ISO 216 standard. Sizes run from A0 down to A10. A5 is half the size of A4 size paper and A2 is half of A1. For office papers, A4 and A3 sizes are most well-known – the ”standards”.

Formation is the small-scale basis weight variation in the paper (wavelength scattering is 0–100 mm). It refers to the level of uniformity in the distribution of the fibers when manufacturing paper. A good formation is "close", while a poor formation is not.

The basis weight or grammage of the paper indicates how many grams one square metre (1m x 1m²) weighs. The A0 size is almost exactly one square metre (841x1189) mm and equivalent to 16 A4 sheets. A paper’s grammage is obtained by weighing 16 A4 sheets. Copying paper normally weighs 80 g/m². If the weight is 200 g/m² or more, the paper is called board. 

Opacity describes non-transparency of paper in percent (%). Paper with poor opacity is relatively transparent. Paper with a high opacity is not transparent at all. Opacity affects the absorption of light by the paper. The opacity of white paper is also changed by the diffusion or reflection of the light from the fibers and fillers used in the manufacturing process.

A ream of paper is a quantity of sheets of the same size and quality. International standards organisations define the ream as 500 identical sheets. The word derives from reyme (Old French) and its meaning is bundle/collect into a bundle. 

When referring to shade, you use the term L– value. It’s a measure of luminance that varies between 0 and 100 where value 100 is perfect white and value 0 is perfect black. Two other values are measured – A-value referring to redness to greenness, and B-value informing you about the scale from yellowness to blueness.

Whiteness measures the reflection of all wavelengths of light across the visible spectrum. Because of this, this measure is more in line with our visual perception than brightness. A high whiteness improves the contrast printed <> unprinted and increases the number of reproducible colors.

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