Glossary of Paper Terms for Fountain Pen Users

(This page revised June 22, 2012)

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This glossary by B. H. Bentzman is included here with the author’s kind permission.

I have attempted to collect words concerning paper that might be of use to fountain pen users; and, in an attempt to emulate other scholars, I have as often as not plagiarized from other glossaries. This is a living glossary and I will consider any new inclusions, or for that matter deletions.


C
calender A machine in the finishing process of paper manufacture where the paper is pressed between rotating cylinders to smooth or glaze.
calcium carbonate An alkaline chemical (CaCO3) used in paper manufacture as a filler, opacifier, and brightness improver to replace clays (which are used in acidic papers) in alkaline papers.
caliper The thickness of paper measured in points or mils equal to one thousandth of an inch.
cellulose What paper is all about. This is the chief constituent of the cell walls of plants. All plants have the potential to produce cellulose. Here is the cellulose content of some of the more popular plant sources for paper use:

Plant Cellulose Content
Cotton 91%
Hemp 77%
Kozo 66% to 77%
Softwood & Hardwoods 57% to 65%
chain lines These are actually watermarks resulting from the wire mesh on which paper is formed. The lines appear in laid paper when held to the light. They are the longer lines, usually one inch apart and run parallel to the direction of the paper's grain. See also laid papers.
coating A layer applied to the surface of paper composed of minerals intended to increase the brightness, gloss, or printability of paper. One must beware of the coating on less expensive papers which, although they improve the paper for the use of modern printers and photocopiers, but can clog a fountain pen.
cockle finish A surface like fine grain produced by air drying paper with controlled tension. It is a popular finish in bond papers.
cold press This is a rough or heavily textured finish given to the surface of a sheet of paper by passing it through cold, polished metal rollers, or with handmade paper a re-pressing of wet sheet without benefit of intermediate felts. This term is frequently applied to watercolor paper and let it be a warning to fountain pen users as the surface is too rough for your writing instrument. See also hot press.
colorfast Color in a paper that is resistant to change from aging or light. See also lightfastness.
cotton Aw, come on, do I have to define everything for you. The fibers of cotton are long, strong, and flexible, which makes them excellent for paper. Papermakers use cotton linters or fabrics that have been made of cotton to produce fine papers.
cotton linters The cotton fibers that remain stuck to the seed after the first ginning. It is used to make paper pulp.
cotton rag Fibers derived from textiles (simply old rags) made from cotton. These fibers are longer and tougher that cotton linters.
cover papers A thick, rigid paper (usually 80 lbs.) that is used primarily to cover and protect printed materials.
cross direction The direction across the grain in which paper is resistant to folding, will crack and wrinkle and be uneven. It is, however, more durable under stress and harder to tear. See also against the grain, grain direction.
curl The tendency of paper to bend by itself due to internal stresses in the sheet from unevenly distributed moisture and conditioning.
cylinder machine A papermaking machine in which a rotating cylinder covered with wire that is partly submerged in a vat of stuff. The sheets are formed on the wire mesh which permits water to drain. The paper is then lifted from the cylinders by an endless felt. Also referred to as a mould machine or cylinder mould machine. See also stuff.

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.

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