How much does 20-pound bond paper weigh?

Giant rolls of paper
Before paper winds up as a random printout on your desk or wound around one of these giant rolls, it has to go through an extensive production process.
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Key Takeaways

  • The term "20-pound bond paper" refers to the weight of 500 sheets (a ream) of bond paper sized 17" x 22", which altogether weighs 20 pounds. However, this is often cut into four letter-size sheets, making each ream actually weigh 5 pounds.
  • Different types of paper like Bristol might use different standard sheet sizes, affecting how paper weight is calculated.
  • Unlike the U.S. system, the metric system measures paper weight in grams per square meter.

The way we talk about paper in the United States is amazingly convoluted. The short answer is that 500 sheets of bond paper with a size of 17" by 22" have a weight of 20 pounds. The manufacturer would cut a sheet that big into four letter-size sheets, so a 500-sheet ream of 20-pound bond paper weighs 5 pounds.

If it was something other than bond paper, then the size of the standard sheet used to determine the weight might be different. For example, Bristol paper is heavier and stiffer (like the paper in a manila file folder). Its standard sheet size is 22.5" by 28.5".


In general, the more a sheet of a certain grade of paper weighs, the thicker it is. You can purchase 20-pound and 24-pound bond paper at an office supply store. The 24-pound bond paper is thicker, heavier and more opaque than 20-pound bond.

The metric system has a much better way of measuring paper. A0 paper is a square meter of paper. One side is 84.1 centimeters long and the other is 118.9 centimeters (the longer side's length is the square root of 2 longer than the shorter side's length). A1 paper is half of an A0 sheet (preserving the square root of 2 rule). A2 is half of an A1 sheet, and so on. And paper weight is measured in grams per square meter, so it is very easy to figure out.


Frequently Asked Questions

How does humidity affect the weight of bond paper?
Humidity can cause bond paper to absorb moisture from the air, potentially increasing its weight slightly and making it feel thicker.
What is the environmental impact of producing bond paper?
Producing bond paper involves using wood pulp, water and chemicals, which can have significant environmental impacts including deforestation and water pollution.