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".

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement