Printers' Paper

A few short notes on paper for printers

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.