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The Paper Library

~Paper Terms & Definitions~

This section is A through F

All the terms listed here are in some way related to paper or paper products. The definitions are kept simple and easy to understand. Pictures and links to various examples are used in many of the terms. In order to get back to this page you should be able to use your "Back" button. This page is being updated all the time as we discover more words that need defining.

For an in-depth knowledge of any words and topics given here it is best to visit your local library and look under Industrial Paper Manufacturing and Paper Making.

All terms are listed alphabetically

This section is A through F





#10 Business Envelope- This envelope is the one most commonly used for business transactions. The size is 4 1/8" x 9 1/2" The flap is traditionally pointed with diagonal seams or side seams. Although the common business color is white they actually come in a very wide range of papers. You can use them to send tall cards or 8 1/2" x 11" stationery folded into thirds.

Diagonal Seams

Side Seams

A1 Cards- A.K.A an Announcement size card. This size card is often used as a reply card for a formal social event. The size is 3 1/2 x 4 7/8 when folded. The card can be flat or folded.


A1 Envelopes- A.K.A an Announcement size envelope. This envelope is often used as a reply envelope.  It fits a card that is 3 1/2" x 4 7/8". It has a straight flap.

This is the standard look of an announcement envelope regardless of the size. The actual size of an A1 is 3 5 /8 x 5 1/8.


A2 Cards- A.K.A an Announcement size envelope. This card is size 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 when folded. It can be flat or folded. A perfect size card for casual events.


A2 Envelopes- A.K.A an Announcement size envelope. This is a common size envelope. It fits a card that is 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" (half of an 8 1/2" x 11 sheet folded). It has a straight flap. It can also be used as a reply envelope.

This is the standard look of an announcement envelope regardless of the size. The actual size of an A2 is 4 3/8 x 5 3/4.

A6 Cards-  A.K.A an Announcement size cards. This size card is 6 1/4 x 4 5/8 when folded. It can be flat or folded. A perfect size card for more formal events.


A6 Envelopes-  A.K.A an Announcement size envelope. This is a slightly larger size envelope. It fits a card that is 4 3/4" x 6 1/2 (folded). It has a straight flap.

This is the standard look of an announcement envelope regardless of the size. The actual size of an A6 is 4 3/4 x 6 1/2.

A7 Cards-  A.K.A an Announcement size cards. This size card is 5 x 7 when folded. It can be flat or folded. A perfect size card for formal events.

A7 Envelopes- A.K.A an Announcement size envelope. This is a slightly larger size envelope. It fits a card that is 5 x 7 (folded). It has a straight flap.

This is the standard look of an announcement envelope regardless of the size. The actual size of an A7 is 5 1/4" x 7 1/4"


A8 Cards-  A.K.A an Announcement size cards. This size card is 5 1/4 x 7 7/8 when folded. It can be flat or folded. A perfect size card for formal events.


A8 Envelopes- A.K.A an Announcement size envelope. This is an oversize envelope that is not so commonly found. It fits a card that is 5 1/4" x 7 7/8"

This is the standard look of an announcement envelope regardless of the size. The actual size of an A8 is 5 1/2" x 8 1/8"

Acid Free- Commercial papers can be made with acid or without acid. When a mill makes a paper that is "Acid Free" it simply means that the paper mixture has a pH above 7.0 and usually buffered with calcium carbonate.

This makes for a more stable paper that will not discolor or break down over time. All Acid Free papers are not necessarily Archival Quality.

Archival Quality- When a paper is "Archival Quality" it has been made with the intention that it will last for a very long time without breaking down and/or discoloring. Generally this paper will not contain Acid, Chlorine, Lignin and other additives that can cause paper to breakdown.

Authentic/True Felt Finish-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library:  Click Here

Baronial Envelopes-
A.K.A. a "Bar" envelope. This is a style of envelope that has a pointed flap. Baronial envelopes range in sizes. Some of the smaller sizes are often used as reply envelopes for weddings and official announcements. Here is a list of sizes:

4Bar 3 5/8" x 5 1/8" (often used as a reply envelope)

5Bar 4 1/8" x 5 5/8"

5 1/2Bar 4 3/8" x 5 3/4"

6Bar 4 3/4" x 6 1/2"

7Bar 5 1/4" x 7 1/2"

Basis- Getting into this subject can be very confusing. The best way to start off is to say that a long time ago paper makers had to come up with ways in which to measure the thickness of paper. What developed was unfortunately several different ways in which to express the thickness of paper. "Basis" is one of those ways.

The word Basis is interchangeable with the word pound or lb for short.

When you hear that a paper is Basis 65 or 65lb then you are talking about a cover stock (a little on the thin side but not quite "flimsy"). When you hear that a paper is Basis 80 or 80lb cover then it is a nice standard thick sheet of paper often used in cardmaking.

If you have paper that is Basis 100 or 100lb or more then you are looking at some very thick cover stock. Many duplex papers are in this range as they are actually two sheets of paper that have been laminated into one.

Basis can also be used to describe thin papers such as Bond, Writing and Text. Those papers can range from Basis 13 or 13lb to Basis 36 or 36lb.

The industry definition is: Basis= the weight in pounds of a ream of paper (500 sheets) cut to one of the "industry's basic sizes.

(Want an in-depth definition? Send us an e-mail at

Batik "Wax Writing"

The art of covering part of the cloth with a coat of wax and then drying the cloth. The wax areas keep their original color and when the wax is removed a pattern is created. Similar techniques can be used with paper.


Blind/Stencil Embossing- The look achieved by "blind embossing" is a raised or depressed surface in the paper. When you are working with brass or plastic stencils and are pressing a pattern into paper using a hand tool that is called Blind or Stencil Embossing. There are also large machines that printers use that will achieve that same effect on a mass production scale.

Sample of Blind/Stencil Embossing

Boards- When you hear paper referred to as a "board" you are talking about extremely thick paper. This is the kind of stuff that you see on the back of notepads or that folks buy in order to make stiff signs with. It is great for crafts applications and it is generally not very expensive either.

One of the best applications for this type of paper is to make hand bound book covers out of it. It is nice and stiff and will usually take just about any type of adhesive without buckling or rippling.

If you hear the words Tag Board, Chip Board and Railroad Board you are talking about some pretty thick stuff. It is great for making book covers and applications where you need a really stiff surface.

Booklet Envelope-
A.K.A a "Booklet" envelope. This envelope is an oversize envelope. Due to the flap being on the top it can be used for fancy occasions and will not look like a boring catalog envelope (flap at the end). If you choose to use it as an envelope for a greeting card then your card will be 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 folded (an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper folded or cut in half).

Bond- Bond paper is thin paper commonly between 13lb and 36lb. You are used to dealing with this type of paper when you make photo copies.

Bristol (Printing and Vellum)- Bristol actually describes two different types of paper. There is the kind that you can use for industrial applications and then there is one that is more for fine arts.

Printing Bristol commonly comes with a smooth finish and in large sheets (22 x 35 or larger). This paper is usually pretty thick stuff (125lb to 225lb).

There is also Vellum Bristol with has a nice lightly textured surface which is great for fine arts projects (vellum finish). This type of bristol is usually between 57lb and 80lb cover.

Burlap/Cordtone Finish-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here


Cardstock- See Pound, lb, Pt. Click Here

Cast Coated-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here

Chlorine Free-
Certain commercial papers can be made with or without chlorine. When a mill makes a paper that is "Chlorine Free" it simply means that the paper mixture contains no chlorine. When this chemical is absent it makes the more stable paper so that it will not discolor or break down over time.


Chip board - An inexpensive thick one-ply cardboard, typically made from recycled paper stock.


Coating- When you hear this word in relation to paper you are talking about a mixture of adhesives, clays etc. that is applied to the surface of paper.

More and more crafters are enjoying the art of collage. Collage is simply layering and arranging an artistic composition of fragments. These fragments can be any material- paper, string, buttons etc. It is a wonderful free form style of art.

Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here


Cool & Dry- Keep your paper and envelopes cool and dry. Paper does not like moisture or heat and it tends to curl and ripple when exposed to it. The adhesive gum on envelopes can moisten and stick shut.

The ideal temperature is 75 % or less. You would not want your papers to be exposed to excessive heats of 90% or more for too long. If you live in a high humidity and/or high heat area be aware of where you store your papers!

Cordtone Finish-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here

Cover Stock- When paper reaches a certain thickness it is called "Cover Stock". This can be a confusing subject as paper is measured in different ways.

You could say that a paper becomes "cover weight" when it reaches 50lb or 8pt. (very thin cover). If it is thinner than 50lb it is often referred to as "text" weight (a.k.a Stationery). For more information on "lb" and "pt" or "text" please see those listings.

If you do not know if a paper is cover stock and do not have any sort of measurement tool with you, simply take the corner and flip it with your finger. If it bends very easily and doesn't snap back fast then you have a text weight or bond paper. If it does not want to bend too much and snaps back into place fast then it is cover.

The more snap you get when you flip it the thicker the paper is. It it does not bend at all you have moved from "cover" into "board".

When paper gets too hot or gets moist it can tend to curl. The reason it does this is that the paper is acting like a sponge and it is soaking up all the moisture from the air. Then when it gets hot it begins to curl as parts of it become dryer than others. Many papers have this problem, especially those with a high recycled content in them.

The best way to avoid your paper curling is to store your papers in a cool and dry area. For more information on storage see "Cool & Dry" (above).

Curled paper

Cutting- This may seem like an obvious subject but there are a few things that may help you when cutting paper.

One is that if you are cutting with scissors and the paper is very thick you will want your scissors to be VERY sharp. This is not to make your job easier so much as to save the edge of your paper. When you cut with dull scissors it can actually ruin the edge by crushing it as it cuts (try it on a scrap to see if your scissors are sharp enough). This makes for a very unprofessional edge.

The second thing is if you are cutting with an x-acto knife or matte knife you need to invest in a large box of blades. Bite the bullet and buy the big box! There is nothing worse than cutting paper with a dull knife. It never gives you a good edge, the pressure required to get through the paper becomes tremendous and more than likely you have to make more than one pass. If you are cutting nice paper then treat yourself to a new blade OFTEN.

If you are lucky enough to have a large paper cutter or access to one be sure that you keep the blade sharp. What can happen if you have a dull blade is that the blade will "pull" your paper as it cuts. When this happens you lose the squareness of your cut. This can be a big problem when you are cutting a large stack. You can clamp that paper as much as you want and the paper will still pull. Keep your blades sharp!!!

Deckle Edge- In the crafts industry this word has taken on a double or even triple meaning.

The older more traditional one is this: A feathered edge on paper products that is produced when the wet fibers of the paper are distorted on the edge of the paper web (screen) by jets of water, suction and air. It is created on purpose to create a fancy edge to the paper. You will see this on envelope flaps, high quality stationery and fancy greeting cards. It is an old fashioned but very classy look!

Commercial "Deckle Edge"

You may also hear the word "Deckle" in reference to a rough non-patterned jagged edge. This can be created either with hand held "deckle" scissors or a large hand cutter. The result is rough edge that simulates a traditional deckle edge as described above.

Close up of teeth on cutter

There is actually a third definition that refers to handmade papers. A large percentage of handmade papers come with 2 or 4 sides decked. The deckle in this case is usually quick dramatic (not subtle as the other two are). It is usually a lovely effect and is something to be desired and used. You can also create your own deckle edge with handmade paper by tearing it by hand or even wetting it a bit and then tearing is against a flat edge or ruler.

Handmade paper style deckle

Decoupage- It is like collage in that you are taking bits and pieces of paper and in some cases other flat materials and arranging them into a design. Once you have pasted all the pieces into place you apply a coating of lacquer or varnish to the top. This gives it a glossy finish and it also creates a protective coating.

In order to die-cut something you are taking a "die" (a block with a sharp metal cut out- like an industrial cookie cutter) and pressing it into paper.

You need to press hard enough so that the metal cuts entirely through the paper. You can use a hand operated machine to do this (an Ellison or similar type machine) or there are print shops that have large machines that will do this on a mass production scale. Dies can be purchased as-is in preset shapes (usually from the companies that sell the machines) or a custom one can be created for about $300.00. Once you have the die made it will stay sharp for years and years (if properly used and stored).

Sample of a die cut card

Duplex- There are two different kinds of duplex papers- 1) Laminated and 2) Printed.

Laminated duplex paper means that two sheets of paper were laminated (glued) together to form one piece of paper. Laminated duplex papers are generally thick (100lb to 160lb).

When a duplex paper is laminated you can get some spectacular results. One side can have one type of finish and the other side may have a completely different type of finish. They can also be one color on one side and the other can be completely different.

Bronze Laid/Smooth Natural Duplex (120lb)

Printed duplex paper means that a paper has had one side printed a different color. For example the mill might take a White Linen 80lb cover stock and print one side Navy Blue. That paper then becomes Navy Linen/White Linen Duplex paper.

Navy Linen/White Linen Duplex (80lb)

Duplex papers are great for making cards out of as they are thick and they offer a "surprise" when they open the card (the inside is a different color/paper). They are also great for making cut-out cards as the "inside" color will show through your cut-out area.

The act of putting a finish on the paper is also a form of embossing. The mills will "press" a finish into the surface of paper. Sometimes you may hear a heavily textured paper referred to as an "embossed" paper. That is simply an easy way of stating that their paper does not a smooth finish paper and you can expect their to be a noticeable finish of some sort.

For example a linen paper is an "embossed paper". The linen finish has been embossed into the surface of the paper.

Looking for a different definition of embossing? Check out Blind or Stencil or Heat Embossing.

Envelope Converting-
When an envelope is made it is called "Converting". The companies that do this get paper in large sheets or rolls and then cut the envelope out and glue then together.They are converting flat paper into envelopes. This process is done with sophisticated machines.

Most envelope converters (except for some specialty converters) will use only thin stationery weight paper to make envelopes. Most of their machines are not set up to run cover weight papers. This is because the "industry" feels that envelopes made from cover weight paper are bulky and would cost too much for the end consumer to buy.

We get many people asking why we do not carry envelopes in dark colors such as Purple Linen. The reason is very simple- the mills do not make the paper thin enough to make into envelopes. Most mills tend to stay away from creating lightweight dark colors (except in the cheaper paper lines). They instead make one or two thicknesses in cover and that's all.

There are exceptions to this but not nearly enough we feel!!

Felt Finish-
Full definition and sample in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here

Full definition and samples of finishes in another section of The Paper Library: Click Here

Flat Cards vs. Folding Cards- Flat cards are just that, flat. Instead of folding (two flaps that come together) like a Hallmark Card, a flat card is just a plain card that does not fold. In other words an A7 FOLDING card is 5 x 7 when folded and 7 x 10 when open all the way. A FLAT card is just 5 x 7.

Many crafters like to use flat cards for matting or for RSVP cards.


Flecks, Fibers, Shives, Specks- These are all words used to describe the little flecks and specks that you see running through papers. They are made from tiny bits of recycled paper or plant matter. In some cases you will see metallic flakes as well.

Foil Stamping- This is a technique that is used by professional printers. You may have seen it on fancy wedding invitations, anniversary cards, business cards, stickers, etc. Very often you will see that an image or word on a business card or greeting card is blind embossed and then foil stamped.

You can also have an entire image foil stamped (not just an image or word). The final result is a raised impression which is then covered in foil making it metallic and shiny. It is a dramatic and eye catching effect. It can be costly unless you go to a place that specializes in foil stamping.

Foil Stamped Sticker

Foiling- This is a inexpensive way that you can achieve the "Foil Look" without the expense and time of going to a professional printer. It has become an art form all in itself and in many ways is superior to machine foil stamping (certainly more versatile!).

Each company that manufactures foil rolls has different directions on how to foil but essentially the way you do it is to put down an adhesive (glue, tape, etc.) and then lay the thin foil sheet/strip onto the adhesive and then quickly pull it off. The foil sticks to the adhesive but not the background.

You can use glue pens and write words. You can rubber stamp or free form paint or draw shapes with glue and then foil it. It is fun and easy! The foil comes in rolls or sheets in all sorts of colors or even multi-colored patterns.

There is also a method of foiling using a laser printer and foil sheets. This works pretty well although the sheets can be expensive.


FSC "Forest Stewardship Council" - An independent, international, environmentally and socially oriented forest certification organization. It trains, accredits and monitors third-party certifiers around the world and works to establish international forest management standards.

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