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Glossary of Paper Terms for Fountain Pen Users

(This page published September 1, 2004)

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Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]


bagasse Paper made from the fibers of crushed sugar cane or beet refuse from sugar making.
basic size for paper In the U.S. the papermaking industry measures papers density and weight by pounds per ream. A modern ream is 500 sheets. Paper sizes vary depending on the kind of paper. Below is provided a list of basic sizes as listed in Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, by Matt Roberts and Don Etherington.

Type of Paper Size (in inches) Type of Paper Size (in inches)
Bible 25 × 38 Mimeograph 17 × 22
Blanks 22 × 38 Newsprint 24 × 36
Blotting 19 × 24 Offset 25 × 38
Bond 17 × 22 Onionskin 17 × 22
Book 25 × 38 Opaque 25 × 38
Cover 20 × 26 Poster 24 × 36
Glassine 24 × 36 Tag 22 × 28 or 24 × 36
Gummed 25 × 38 Text 25 × 38
Index 25 × 30 Tissues 24 × 36
Ledger 17 × 22 Vellum bristol 22 × 28
Manifold 17 × 22 Writing 17 × 22
Manuscript 18 × 31
basis weight (also substance) This is a standard of weights for paper. In the U.S. this can be given in pounds per ream (lb/ream) of paper cut to various standard sizes, usually 17" × 22" for writing stock. It is not a good comparative measure as it varies depending on a paper’s size. In the rest of the world, weights for paper are given in grams per square meter (g/m2), which is preferable because the sheets do not vary in size. See also grammage.
bast fiber (also bast) This is the strong, woody fibers obtained from the phloem tissue (the food-conducting tissue of a plant) as can be found in flax, hemp, jute, mulberry, or ramie and is used in the manufacture of paper.
beater In papermaking, this is a giant blender that beats and crushes the raw materials, such as rags, into pulp.
bleaching This is a chemical process that makes paper white, but the same chemicals weakens the paper making it less permanent. Also, bleaching harms the environment. It should be noted that papers made from cotton are naturally white, which makes bleaching unnecessary.
bleed This occurs when you lay a line of ink on paper and it soaks through to the reverse side of the paper. It can sometimes be avoided by writing with a finer nib or a lighter color ink. See also feathering.
blotting paper This is a very absorbent, unsized paper used to take up the excess of ink when writing. The excess ink on paper does not dry quickly and can smear. See also waterleaf.
Blue Angel  1  The German eco-label that signifies that the paper is 100% recycled (see below).  2  A 1930 German film directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring an unforgettable Marlene Dietrich in a scene that has been copied in tribute many times.
bond James Bond, but he has nothing to do with paper. However, just “bond” is a paper of superior qualities and high cotton content traditionally used for the printing of bonds (certificates) and was adopted by business for stationery.
brightness The measure of the brilliance of paper as determined by how much it reflects under a specially calibrated blue light. The percentage of brightness is determined by the paper's blue-white reflectance compared to magnesium oxide, which is considered 100% bright. See also Average Brightness.
buffering The neutralizing of acids in paper by adding an alkaline substance such as calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate into the pulp. See also acid free.

The information in this glossary is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

© 2004 B. H. Bentzman
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