Home > Glossary


To describe our products and their components we use terms that may be unfamiliar, or that may have been used in unfamiliar ways. We have included this glossary to help give context to the content on our site. This page is a work in progress - we want it to be comprehensive! Please let us know if there are terms on our site you'd like us to explain or clarify. Below the descriptions of terms used on this site are, where appropriate, notes identifying their relevance to our products.

- Paper made from wood pulp naturally contains a chemical compound, called lignin, which causes paper to yellow and deteriorate over time. Lignin itself is not an acid, but one of its primary components is, and that acid is released as the lignin decomposes. To make paper that is acid-free, most of the lignin is removed from the wood pulp. To neutralize what remains, paper mills will bleach the pulp and will add an alkiline chemical to it.
All of our white and ruled paper is acid-free, making it an appropriate recepticle for preserving your art and your words.

Book cloth - This material consists of tightly woven fibers adhered to a coated paper substrate that renders the material relatively impermeable to glue. Book cloth is designed to fold and set with ease. It is durable and archival.
Our binders and boxes are wrapped with book cloth. We also use it on the spine of our kraft hardbound books.

Caliper - Usually a term that refers to a micro-scale measuring device, in the book and paper world caliper can also refer to the thickness of a material, such as board. This thickness is measured on a point scale, where one point equals one thousandth of an inch.
Our board is usually 80pt. for journals and 119pt. for boxes and binders, both of which are thicker than is typical for such products.

Cover weight - This term describes a paper stock that is relatively stiff and inflexible. Cover weight paper is also known as card stock.
We use cover weight paper as pages for our memory books and to line the inside covers of our binders.

Deckled edge - A deckled edge is the rough, wavy edge of an uncut sheet of paper. Machine-made paper can have a deckled edge on two sides. Handmade paper typically has four deckled edges.
Our handmade papers have four deckled edges.

Opacity - This term describes the relative translucence of a sheet of paper. Papers that are more opaque tend to show less of the ink used on the opposite side, making two-sided writing far more legible.
All our writing and drawing paper is highly opaque.

# ("Pound") - Pound refers to the weight of the paper, and it's a figure representative of a paper's mass (and useful for infering its thickness and density) relative to other papers of the same category. The pound figure is what is known as the "basis weight," and the figure represents the actual weight of 500 sheets of a paper in its "basic size." Different categories of paper (e.g. cover weight and text weight) have different basic sizes, meaning that a sheet of, for example, 60# cover weight paper will have a different actual weight from a sheet of 60# text weight paper -- since each figure was derived from 500 sheet reams of paper of a different length and width.
Describing paper in terms of its weight in pounds is an American convention, and the European method for describing the mass of paper follows the more straightforward GSM (Grams per Square Meter), also called grammage, which does not, by its very definition, account for different basic sizes among categories of paper. The American scale varies for each paper category, while the European scale is absolute. But the American scale is hardly less useful, since there is little value in comparing papers of different categories as their use is not likely to overlap.
Our plain white paper is 70# text weight.

Post-Consumer-Waste Recycled - "Recycled" is a term of art: industry jargon without any particular significance. Book manufacturers often refer to paper as "recycled" even when the paper contains little or no post-consumer-waste content. Post-consumer waste (PCW) is the ordinary understanding of the word "recycled," and using PCW material involves rescuing discarded consumer goods from the waste stream. Using PCW paper helps save mature forests from degredation and destruction, helps save energy, helps save the release of toxic gases into the atmosphere and helps save paper goods from a long, slow demise in a landfill.
Most of our eco/recycled products feature pages that are 100% post-consumer-waste recycled.
Smyth sewn - Smyth sewing is a method of book assembly named after its inventor, David M. Smyth, who founded a company that made machines to facilitate this binding method in the late 19th Century. To Smyth sew a book, a machine-driven needle passes a heavy thread through the fold of a paper signature, then passes that same thread through the fold of an adjacent signature. This method involves redundancies -- such as maintaining the fold, using multiple pieces of thread and adding a fabric backing -- that are lacking in other binding methods, in order to ensure that the book does not lose pages or come apart. Perfect binding, for example, binds the pages of a book using only an adhesive. Perfect-bound pages are not sewn, and the fold is ground away, meaning that pages can eventually fall out. In contrast to some other methods of thread binding, Smyth sewn books are also able to lie flat, since the stitch is through the fold of the signature. Smyth sewing is the ideal binding method for high-quality books that are intended to endure.
All of our hardbound books are Smyth sewn.

Text weight - This term describes paper that is uncoated (no waxy finish or "sheen"), flexible and suitable for use as book pages.
Most of our book pages are text weight paper.

Tooth - This term describes the relative roughness of a paper's surface.
Our drawing books have a "toothy" vellum finish.

Turned edge - This term describes the technique of adhering a cover material to a piece of board and wrapping the edges of the cover material around the board's edges to minimize the exposure of the material's seams and to add protection to the board's edge. This technique is typical of cloth-bound books, but is usually in distinction to products like vinyl binders, whose edges are heat-sealed. Turned edges are an elegant way to finish a product and they help increase its durability.
All of our binders and boxes, and most of our covered journals feature turned edges.

Vellum Finish - "Vellum" originally referred to a material made from animal skin, which was stretched, dried and scraped for use as paper. The term survives to describe a paper finish with a slightly rough texture (see "tooth") that increases the surface area of the sheet, making it more permeable to ink and other drawing and sketching media.
Several of our papers, including our drawing paper, feature a vellum finish.