Gregath Company, Incorporated
 
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Basic Paper Primer

Most of the work Gregath Company, Inc. does in-house is offset printed.  We offset print on uncoated, pH balanced, quality papers.  Uncoated papers have been traditionally defined by weight (#).  Interest has begun to increase also as to the brightness as well as archival nature.  As experienced, commercial publishers, we have selected as our basis paper one that balances all of these issues while taking into account economy as well.  If a customer has a list of specifics, or even a particular brand/type of paper, we are happy to get paper mill quotes and pass the quotation information on. 

Gregath's standard book paper is a #50/60 uncoated white paper, acid free with a brightness of at least 84% - long grain when bound on 11" side.

Paper weight is based on the basic size of a given paper as determined by a given mill.  For this reason, many weight notations one finds has at least 2 separate numbers.  This does not necessarily mean the weight fluctuates between the two.  Generally with printers and suppliers is not a range, but a definition from more than one source and may include more than one grade of paper (bond, text, etc.).  A 50/60# paper is ordered as 50# and as 60#.  However, when put through standardized testing, it is found that each sheet carries the same weight. If in doubt, check with the business presenting the number information for formal explanation.  Gregath paper suppliers do recognize the standard variation in basis weight of + or - 5% as acceptable by industry standards.

Paper brightness affects the legibility and contrast of printing.  The brightness test measures the reluctance of paper under strict optimal conditions and related it to a white standard (Magnesium Oxide).  The test is mainly applicable to white paper grades.  Today, basic offset grades are usually in the 80%-90% brightness range.  Aesthetic importance may also be given to the brighter papers.  However, if archival quality is a focus, one must be certain that it is not traded for the brightness.  White papers with a 90+ brightness sometimes actually have a blue or colored cast, due to additives. 

Paper opacity is the lack of transparency that allows a sheet to conceal print on the opposite side.  Weight, brightness, type of fiber and filler in testing can all greatly influence opacity.  Reflectance of paper is measured when backed successfully by a white body and a black body.  The ratio of these two measurements determines the opacity reading.  Typical opacity of 50# white offset is 88-90; 20# business (typing) paper is 84-88. 

A quick and very basic "home" test is to print something large and black (black and white clip art and/or various sized of bolded text) on a sheet of paper, place a blank sheet of the paper to be tested over this printed sheet.  Any print that happens to show through will show a bit more if actually printed on the currently black paper.  For book printing, take your darkest page and try this test.  Many manuscript designers will change their manuscript elements to decrease the opacity needed for a nice book, rather than pay the difference for higher opacity.

Paper Grain Direction:  All papers have a grain direction.  When the grain runs along the longest dimension of the sheet, the paper is "long grain".  Grain is seldom a factor in offset printing; however it is a major consideration in binding.  Binderies prefer long grain since paper offers the least resistance in the same direction as most fibers in a sheet.  Also, pages in books tend to lie flat better when they are made with, rather than against the grain.  For saddle stitched books, a stronger book is produced with long grain, due to the fold being across the grain, but it doesn't lie as flat.  Short grain paper is has difficulty maintaining dimensional stability and may result in more book problems such as wrinkled pages, etc.

To test the grain of paper use one of the following:

  1. Moisten two right-angle edges of a sheet, and press between fingers.  As the sheet dries, the edge across the grain will be wavy; the edge with the grain will be straight.

  2. Tear the sheet in two directions.  It tears straighter and cleaner with the grain.

  3. Fold the sheet in two directions.  It folds easier and smoother with the grain.

End-use need, design considerations, print quality and budgetary needs should go into deciding what paper to use.

Gregath's standard book paper is a #50/60 uncoated white paper, acid free with a brightness of at least 84%.


The following information has been provided for educational purposes.  These papers are not Gregath standard, but can be quoted upon request.

Recycled Papers

While Gregath's standard paper is not generally considered recycled, if this is a consideration, it can be quoted upon.  Please find basic information for your use.

Three kinds of waste make up the content of recycled paper -

and


This symbol represents items made predominately from recycled papers, promotional material and organizations engaged in paper recycling.

Recycled


 

This symbol represents  paper items that are made from fibers which are recommended for recycling after use.

Recyclable

Coated Papers

Generally, Gregath out-sources items requested on glossy or coated papers.  However, information for determining quality has been provided here for educational purposes:

Coated papers are graded according to brightness levels. Coated grades, regardless of finish (gloss, dull, matte, etc.) are designated #1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 - #1 being the highest quality.  Other factors considered in the quality level are gloss levels, coat weight, groundwood or free pulp content, quality of other additives and price.  Regardless of the quality rating, end-use need (including archival), design considerations, print quality and budgetary needs should go into deciding what paper to use.

References:


For more suggestions on this subject and more, order our book:
wholesale price eligible G550-$20.00 WRITING Family History Or Genealogy For Pleasure and Profit Complete Edition, by Gregath Company, Inc., *updated* 2015. ISBN: 978-0-944619-00-1, 8½x11", softbound book, 132 pages, suggestions & examples of all facets of your project for the typist and/or computer user.
Also available on disk. Note: All G prefix books 100 pages or more, this one included, that are SB can be special ordered in hard cover edition - contact for details.

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This Page Last Updated: February 07, 2017

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