A Guide To GSM (g/m2)

measuring paper thickness

The weight of your print media can make a huge difference to your printing needs and preferences.

For those looking for a new printer, the maximum GSM capability is an important factor to take into account.

The max GSM capability means the highest density media that a printer can effectively print on.

So if you’re a graphic designer wanting to create print outs on a high density card stock, a printer with a high max GSM becomes a necessity.

What is GSM or g/m2?

GSM or g/m2 is a measurement of print media thickness. Short for grams per square metre, the higher the GSM value, the thicker the media.

Paper thickness GSM chart

The chart below explains the degradations in GSM and how they can affect your printer purchase;

U.S. Basis Weight GSM Caliper Media Type
25lbs 40gsm   Tracing paper
50lbs 74gsm   Standard Printer Paper
60lbs 89gsm 3pts Book pages
70lbs 105gsm 3.5pts Envelopes/Flyers
80lbs 118gsm 4pts Posters/Brochures
120lbs 325gsm 14pts Greeting Cards/Book Covers
130lbs 400gsm 16pts Business Cards


What other ways of measuring paper weight are used?

An alternative method for measuring paper weight is the U.S. Basis Weight.

The U.S. Basis weight is based on lbs measurements of the media and denotes the thickness and overall weight of a print media

This weight standard is based on the weight of one ream (500 sheets) measured in lbs.

This measurement is commonly dented as xlb where x = the pound weight.

If a paper is said to have a weight of 70lb, this means that one ream of paper weighs 70lbs.

Another, less commonly used method of paper weight measurement is the Caliper measurement method.

Using a caliper tool, this method measures the physical thickness of the media and assigns the media a pts value.

The higher the pts value, the thicker the media so a business card may score 18pts of thickness whilst a book page may score only 3pts.

Take a look at our wide range of printers here to find a model that can handle the media thickness you want to print on!