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Paper Terminology Glossary

Paper Terminology Glossary


When you are shopping for paper for your latest art project did you ever wonder what a Deckle Edge was? Or what 100% Rag actually means? Or whether you should choose Hot Pressed over Cold Pressed? We have compiled this handy list of artist paper terminology for your reference. Enjoy!

100% Rag Made entirely of cotton and/or linen rag pulp

Bond Paper A term for smooth-surfaced text weight paper, coined by a customer of Crane’s Stationers, a banker who asked that his personal stationery be printed on “bond paper”, the stock used for printing bank bonds.

Deckle Edge The natural terminal edge of a sheet of paper, where the screen on which the sheet is formed is attached to the deckle, or frame. Artificial deckle-edges are produced by a jet of water slicing through still-wet pulp.

High Alpha Wood-based paper pulp of the highest quality, with strong fibers and no acidity.

Hot-pressed, Cold-pressed, Plate and Rough All manufactured artist’s papers are pressed in some fashion, between rollers that squeeze out water and impart a specific texture. Hot-pressed paper is smooth and relatively free from surface detail; cold-pressed paper has more pronounced tooth. Plate finish papers and boards are smooth like hot-pressed, deriving their name from the metal plates each sheet was originally sandwiched between before passing through a press. Rough paper has the most aggressive surface, like earlier papers whose bumpy textures resulted from shrinkage during air-drying.

Inclusion Any material added to paper pulp for visual or textural effect that remains distinct from the paper fibers. Leaves, flowers, cloth scraps and coffee husks are only a few examples from among thousands of possibilities.

Internally and Externally Sized Internally sized paper is completely impregnated with sizing during the manufacturing process; paper that is externally sized has had starch or glue applied after the sheet has been created.

Kozo A Japanese term for mulberry-derived fiber

Laid A surface revealing the texture of the screen on which the sheet was formed, or a simulation of the traditional texture produced by a die on the dandy roll

Lignin A protein in wood, undesirable in finished paper

pH Neutral vs. Acid Free The pH scale measures acidity and alkalinity in degrees from 0 to 14, with a value of 7 being “pH neutral”. A paper designated “acid free” will have a pH of 7 or greater; a paper sold as “pH neutral” should have a value between 6.5 and 7.5.

Pulp Cellulose fibers prepared for papermaking by pounding and bleaching

Ream 500 sheets, formerly 480 (based on 20 “quires” of 24 sheets)

Sulphite Wood pulp produced by breaking down fibers in sulphuric acid; there are different grades of Sulphite pulp

Watermark A design on a sheet of paper revealed by illumination from the back. Originally accomplished by molding or welding a design element or insignia onto the wire screen used to make paper, now more commonly produced by placing dies on the dandy roll

Weight (gsm) A useful measure of weight in paper, based upon grams per square meter. Accurate regardless of original sheet size.

Weight (pounds) A measure of the weight of a full ream of paper; the implied weight of a single sheet from a ream, dependent upon one’s knowledge of the full, unconverted sheet size.

Wove A smooth, featureless surface with subtle tooth; from the “woven” type mold, as opposed to the “ribbed” type.

Digital Paper Terminology

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