Printers’ Paper

When examin­ing paper, a print­er can look at four dimen­sions –

  • Gen­er­al qual­ity: this is the col­our, look-through, fin­ish and strength
  • Price
  • Suit­ab­il­ity for pur­pose
  • Effi­ciency of con­di­tion: matur­ity, freedom from damp, flaws, bad edges and the con­di­tion of the coat­ing

Print­ing papers were pre­dom­in­antly made from wood­pulp or espar­to.  Espar­to is a long, wiry grass from Spain and North Africa.  The fibres are short and soft and so not quite as strong as rag.  That said, espar­to stretches less and more evenly than oth­er fibres.

In gen­er­al terms, ordin­ary machine paper that is strong and opaque is suit­able for book work provided that the fidel­ity of illus­tra­tion is not so import­ant.  Imit­a­tion art paper is based on espar­to pulp but has china clay added.  Just before cal­en­der­ing, a fine spray of water is applied — bring­ing the clay to the sur­face — and it is this that forms the high sur­face.