Understanding GSM Paper. A complete Guide.

Understanding GSM Paper. A complete Guide.

Concurring with the actuality that when it comes down to printing your desired products, it can be somewhat an irksome and handful to not just get the right quality but to choose which GSM paper is better for printers and its paper weight. Talking about paper type here, one might find it a bit confusing and to be very honest its not just you so let us get that out of the way. Everyone getting involved with printing has to go through this trial of grasping this knowledge of GSM paper and deciding mere paper quality, type and which one is the best for the job. All this looks pretty complicated right? That what is GSM paper?

Or is it?

Well, it turns out at Quiksprints we like to make things easy to understand and helping you understand that what is GSM paper, paper weight and paper thickness. Covering all the nitty-gritties here we would like to make it easy and comprehendible everything there is to GSM paper. With our thorough guide about complete details about what exactly is GSM Paper, what are its types, what is paper thickness and what are paper sizes and measurements we aim to present a less complicated and standardized way of making you understand about paper a whole lot peaceful.

I shall be going into detail explaining meaning of GSM paper and talking about what its paper weight is, paper thickness and uses of different types of GSM Paper. By the end of this complete through guide one would have an explicit and clear understand of GSM paper, paper sizes and measurements and its applications.

What is GSM paper?

Understanding what is GSM paper is very important when getting into printing pretty much anything.

Everything has to be measurable in order to make its use for efficient and effective. In terms of Paper, it is measured in GSM. What does GSM stand for? Well, it is short for “grams per square meter”. Whenever you would look for printing paper, there would be a format somewhere on the packaging like ‘size’, ‘weight and thicknesses. For example A4 the most commonly used paper size in offices, universities etc, the packaging would say something similar to A4, 55 GSM or A4, 450 GSM.

Now, lets break down these terms. The first half A4 refers to the paper size, its dimensions that what is the width and length of the paper which is already pre-determined. The second half which is more important refers to the thickness and weight of the paper, for instance over here 450 GSM is telling us that this paper is 450 grams per square meter, and it would be thicker and heavier as compared to the 55 GSM paper to a certain degree and would be visibly different as well.  

It is very important to understand here that all paper types with regards to the GSM value has its own uses and benefits. One might not necessarily be inferior to the other just because it exceeds in its GSM value. I shall make this clear in understanding paper weights.

Understanding why does paper weight matter?

With most things having an understanding of real-life applications and a particular awareness in regard to feel of the thing in question makes it easier to get yourself trained to grasp the basic essence of that particular phenomenon.

Similarly, when it comes to understanding GSM paper weight and why does paper weight matter, we shall have to start in getting ourselves well aware of paper in question. Paper usually used more commonly in documents, offices etc in the shape of receipts, bills, manuals etc range from 30-90 GSM paper. The envelop you get your bills delivered in usually has a GSM value of 30-60 and the notepad you may be using in your household to make a list of groceries may have weight ranging from 75-90 GSM. This might have made it a bit clearer to how paper weight works and with what type of GSM paper our usual interaction on a day-to-day basis is.

All paper types have their own uses, lets make this very clear at the start, like I said before in understanding what is GSM Paper more value does not necessary reflect better results. It all comes down to the core use and application in question. Let us take an example to understand this better in regard to 450 GSM, the highest commercially used GSM paper type. Whenever you meet someone new in regards with work and business or similar interactions you might hand over or are given a business card or a visiting card. Business cards are very important, and their paper type and GSM paper value matters a lot. Here is why. Business cards take a lot of abuse over time, they are stored in tight wallets, bags with lots of weight over them occasionally and they have very important details on them. Names, addresses and services etc. With a business card made from 450 GSM paper weight the card is very thick and heavy in weight thus making it very durable which is what matter here. Usually when you choose 450 GSM paper, you are mostly looking for durability and this is our target, and our application is a business card. So, what size and GSM paper weight you choose? Obviously one of the top GSM paper available which is 450 in this context.

So, if we were to use 90 GSM paper for business cards one might find it quite troublesome to have to store a business card with this type of paper weight in a wallet or a bag without getting it crumbled or torn. So, there we have it, that why does paper weight matter. In the above given example 450 GSM paper fulfils our two corners here which are durability and application of a business card.

Similarly, if you are thinking of an invitation card, the idea behind is that of a celebration to for example a wedding or a party. Although the event may be short lived and only for a day but the purpose it to fill glamour and excitement into the occasion. Thus, choosing a 450 GSM paper for invitation cards would not only make the cards durable but the the presentation of the card a lot more beautiful and radiant as these types of cards usually require some engravings as well and a 450 GSM paper does that exact job. It is stiff enough to withstand different patterns on it and at the same time is durable.

GSM is the most common, standardized, and easier to understand measure for paper weight however there exist two other methods as well which are called Caliper and Basis Weight.
Caliper is a tool which is used to calculate the thickness of paper. It is also referred to as a micrometer.

Basis Weight is used in the United States for measuring paper weight. It has its own sets of standards and certain rules. It requires weighing of reams which are 500 sheets of one type of paper in basic uncut sheet size which provides the categorization of the paper weight. Here in the UK we like to stick with the concept of GSM.

Choosing the right weight, size and understanding the applications of different GSM paper is what we shall tackle next.

Understanding what are GSM Paper Types? And their uses.

The next challenge in this ordeal made easy for us to understand what different standards of GSM paper are, GSM paper types and their different applications in order to have broader sense of our targets and objective.

One important aspect to keep in mind here is to set our objectives in terms of the use and application you are looking for. In the above example of business cards, the purpose and aim were durability and toughness to withstand tougher environments which lead us to the conclusion of using 450 GSM paper due to its qualities which check all our boxes.

The term ‘grammage’ is mostly used to describe the GSM paper weight. There are various ways to calculate grammage. Usually it is expressed as simply GSM or grams per square meter and is the most commonly used reference for it.

Now let us take a look at different standard GSM Paper types, grammage and their usual applications.

This is a broad calculation to give an idea that what type of GSM paper is used, where it is used and for what purpose it is used. It makes it easier to understand that what is GSM paper type? Once the applications are understood and made clear.

It might have been noticed that as the GSM value goes up so, does the toughness of the paper and the usage becomes that which requires strength and to be able withstand different types of environments. GSM Paper types, GSM Paper weights and their understanding should make it clear to you that what type of paper you require for you product and application.

Other important factors which play a role in GSM paper decision making is the type of paper, variations, and coatings on it. These make include bond paper, gloss coated paper, recycled paper, silk coated paper, watermarked paper, matt coated paper, and uncoated paper.

Now that Paper weight has been understood the next step in deciding your GSM paper would be the measurements and dimensions of the paper.

Understanding what are GSM Paper Sizes and Measurements?

As the paper weight has been very well understood at this point the next key factor is the paper size and measurements. It was made very clear to have a complete sense of what your application is and its major function. This knowledge makes it easier to understand what type of size one might be looking for.

Continuing our example of 450 GSM paper in context with business cards. When one imagines a business card the usual measurement which might shine upon the mind is something hand sized, and which can be easily placed a wallet or small tight places. Similarly, if the idea of an invitation card comes into one’s mind the usual estimated size would be a mere normal size although slightly bigger then a business card but something which can held in one’s hand and is easy to read and comprehend without many movements. In these examples both applications in most cases use 450 GSM paper but having the objective and goal clear the Paper size and measurement becomes quite reasonably vivid and is made extremely decisive.

Now a person might wonder how to explain this imaginative idea of the paper size and measurement. Just holding up your hands would only present a very vague idea of what you actually want. Luckily, we have system standardized just for this task. Currently two Standards exist worldwide for GSM paper sizes and measurements which make the process less hectic in deciding your ideal paper size and measurement. ISO sizes A series and ISO sizes B series introduced in 1975. Another standard used specifically for envelops is called ISO sizes C series.

Refer to the standardized data below for more information.


SO Code

Size in millimeters

Size in inches

Size in Points


1682 mm x 2378 mm

66.22 in x 93.62 in

4768 pt x 6741 pt


1189 mm x 1682 mm

46.81 in x 66.22 in

3370 pt x 4768 pt


841 mm x 1189 mm

33 in x 46.81 in

2384 pt x 3370 pt


594 mm x 841 mm

23.39 in x 33 in

1684 pt x 2384 pt


420 mm x 594 mm

16.54 in x 23.36 in

1191 pt x 1684 pt


297 mm x 420 mm

11.69 in x 16.54 in

842 pt x 1191 pt


210 mm 297 mm

8.27 in x 11.69 in

595 pt x 842 pt


148 mm x 210 mm

5.83 in x 8.27 in

420 pt x 595 pt


105 mm x 148 mm

4.13 in x 5.83 in

298 pt x 420 pt


74 mm x 105 mm

2.91 in x 4.13 in

210 pt x 298 pt


52 mm x 74 mm

2.05 in x 2.91 in

147 pt x 210 pt


37 mm x 52 mm

1.46 in x 2.05 in

105 pt x 147 pt


26 mm x 37 mm

1.02 in x 1.46 in

74 pt x 105 pt



ISO Code

Size in millimeters

Size in inches

Size in Points


1000 mm x 1414 mm

33.37 in x 55.67 in

2836 pt x 4008 pt


707 mm x 1000 mm

27.84 in x 39.37 in

2004 pt x 2835 pt


500 mm x 707 mm

19.69 in x 27.84 in

1417 pt x 2004 pt


353 mm x 500 mm

13.9 in x 19.69 in

1001 pt x 1417 pt


250 mm x 352 mm

9.84 in x 13.9 in

709 pt x 1001 pt


176 mm x 250 mm

6.93 in x 9.84 in

499 pt x 709 pt


125 mm x 176 mm

4.92 in x 6.93 in

354 pt x 499 pt


88 mm x 125 mm

3.47 in x 4.92 in

249 pt x 354 pt


62 mm x 88 mm

2.44 in x 3.47 in

176 pt x 249 pt


44 mm x 62 mm

1.73 in x 2.44 in

125 pt x 176 pt


31 mm x 44 mm

1.22 in x 1.73 in

88 pt x 125 pt

ISO C for envelopes


Size in Millimeters

Size in


917 x 1297

36.1 x 51.1


648 x 917

25.5 x 36.1


458 x 648

18.0 x 25.5


324 x 458

12.8 x 18.0


229 x 324

9.0 x 12.8


162 x 229

6.4 x 9.0


114 x 162

4.5 x 6.4


81 x 114

3.2 x 4.5


57 x 81

2.2 x 3.2


40 x 57

1.6 x 2.2


28 x 40

1.1 x 1.6


These are varying standardized paper sizes and measurements which exist in the UK and globally. One can decide which size to choose by looking at the charts and their ISO codes.


Turning back to the title now that what is GSM Paper? In short it is the most common and easy to understand way of getting yourself familiar with a vast range of paper thicknesses and their different applications. The most important factor influencing proper usage of paper, sizes and measurements and types is knowing the main application of one’s needs. Once this idea is vivid and understood, it would be crystal clear to grasp what GSM paper, paper thickness and size is required.

Quiksprint makes your process of choosing the right GSM paperweight, paper type, and paper size and measurement a simple walk in the park.