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.

satin finish (also silk finish) This is a very smooth paper that usually has a sheen.
scalloped edge A series of decorative curved projections cut along the edge of a paper. See also deckle edge.
silk finish See satin finish.
sisal This is a leaf fiber from the Yucatán traditionally used for making ropes and rugs. It produces a soft paper.
size or sizing This is a coating or treatment to paper that provides resistance to the absorption of moisture and prevents ink from feathering or bleeding through. When sizing is applied only to the surface, as with a brush, the paper is surface sized. When the sizing is added to the pulp while still in its vat, the paper is tub sized, and the sizing is also internal to the paper. The sizing is any of various gelatinous or glutinous preparations that fill the pores of paper. A common sizing is saponified rosin, which come from the gums of pine trees, to which is added alum to precipitate the rosin size onto the fiber surfaces of the paper and prevent the rosin from being washed away. See also alum.
Spanish Inquisition “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
stiffness This refers to the paper’s rigidity, its lack of flexibility.
stuff In papermaking, this is pulp that is ready to be spread on the wire. I don’t see that there is much need for fountain pen users to know this, but I just can’t resist including the word for its lightheartedness.
substance See basis weight.
sulphite pulp A higher grade of wood pulp in which calcium bisulphate or sodium sulphite is used in the process to produce long, strong fibers. The wood is usually from coniferous trees. The better qualities are excellent for fountain pens. See also high alpha cellulose, wood pulp.

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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