An average office employee uses at least 10,000 sheets of paper per year. That comes down to at least 28 sheets of paper per day.

What is GSM Paper - The Ultimate Guide

And we haven’t even included the average use of paper by schools and other such institutions.

But have you ever wondered what in fact is the point of creation of these staggering amounts of paper? Or what are the specifications one needs to know while purchasing paper?

Well, to scratch the surface, paper is circulated globally by the essence of its weight, and is called GSM paper. Well not essence in particular, but you get the gist of it.

On the other hand, if you are still a tad bit confused about it, or need to know more about how the entire concept of GSM paper works then get your reading glasses on because we are about to discuss some heavyweight paper, pun intended.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

What in fact is a GSM paper?

It would not be wrong to say that GSM could be a quantified term. GSM is an acronym for ‘grams per square meter’. To simplify it for you, the standardization of various types of paper in terms of weight is done through a sample sheet that is one square meter in size.

Check 100’s of Free Printables for Kids

After this sample sheet has been procured, it is used as an ideal for all sorts of other purposes. It is important to note that this sample remains consistent, doesn’t matter the length or breadth of the paper. Let us explain this to you with the help of an example.

Let’s say a sheet of paper weighs 200 gsm. This means that every square meter of that entire sheet – be it A4 or A5 – weighs 200 gsm irrespective of its size.’

Moreover, different weights in GSM represent different textures of paper. For example, a paper with a weight of 40 gsm would be much thinner and lighter than a paper that weighs 350 gsm. The 350 gsm paper, on the other hand, would be thicker and durable and has its own designated purposes.

A Note to Remember:

A paper that weighs 40 gsm will not weigh the same when cut down to poster size or letter size. Either way, both the types will be considered 40 gsm paper as ‘gsm’ represents a quantified thickness or thinness.

Let’s Get Virtual

If you still find it difficult to conceptualize this paper world, then we have it planned one step ahead of you. Here is a YouTube video explaining all that you need to know about GSM paper in less than a minute.

What is paper GSM and why does it matter?

In this video, you will be briefed upon what GSM paper is and why it is important. Moreover, you will learn about various GSM paper related weight measurements, and which sort of paper is compatible for various works such as sketching, printing, promotion and more.

Should you really care about the weight of the paper that much?

Well to sum up, yes. The weight of the paper that one uses is crucial to the sort of work being done. It is important enough to have a term after it. GSM of a paper decides what it should be used for, and is referred to as the paper’s ‘grammage’.

That is not the only reason you should take the weight of your paper seriously. There are various other reasons, and to name a few:

  • Different types, different styles

It is common knowledge that different types of paper are used for different purposes. You would not want your party invitation to be made out of the same paper as a notepad, would you? We’re not saying you can’t, but elegance does come as a cost.

  • Avoid ink related faux-pas

If you are using a paper that weighs 90 gsm or below, then there is a high probability of the ink bleeding through the paper, rupturing your designs or work. To avoid putting yourself in a faux-pas, it is recommended that you use the GSM paper based on the type of work you have to do.

  • Suit Up Your Business!

In any sort of business related endeavor, it is important to showcase your dedication through a materialistic lifestyle. In a way, what you own also defines you in a business. Naturally, you would like a stiff and sturdy business card rather than a flappy and easily bendable one. So, suiting up your paper is also important.

Now, GSM paper is used for almost all the purposes one could use paper for. To further help you understand it, here is a summary of the standard weight of the paper and what it is used for:

  • 35 gsm – 55 gsm: The thinnest kind of paper available, this type of GSM paper is translucent and primarily used for tracing or for newsprints.
  • 75 gsm – 90 gsm: This type of GSM paper is ideally used for sketch pads or notepads, as it is suitable for some light paperwork or sketching. If one were to use ink on it, there is a hundred percent chance it will bleed through.
  • 90 gsm – 100 gsm: This type of GSM paper is your everyday printer paper, commonly found in most households.
  • 120 gsm – 140 gsm: Think promotional paper! This type of GSM paper is commonly used as movie posters or is also used for displaying various products at stores for promotional purposes.
  • 210 gsm – 300 gsm: This type of GSM paper is comparatively stiffer yet bendable. One might come across this paper on some magazines and high quality flyers. In fact, most bases for watercolor or painting papers are made from this GSM paper.
  • 350 gsm – 450 gsm: This type of GSM paper is the stiffest and sturdiest out of all the papers, and is like cardstock. One may have encountered these types of papers on business cards or invitations.
What is GSM Paper - The Ultimate Guide, buying guide,
GSM Paper Sizes (Source: Pixabay)

Measurements – How do GSM paper measurements work?

Naturally, there are different measurements used for different textures and styles of papers. It primarily depends on the sort of work one needs to do, and there are standard sizes for everything. For example, the standard size of a business card will differ from the standard size of a letter, or a brochure for that matter.

So if you are a paper geek or here on a confidential work related sojourn… either way you will glimpse into the limits of a limitless world of paper.

Here is a list of the most globally accepted set of standard sizes when it comes to GSM paper:

ISO A Paper – Measurements and Sizes

The internationally accepted standard for GSM paper is ISO A. It uses millimeters and meters for measurement purposes. The largest format in this type of GSM paper is A0, which is one square meter in size.

The next step of measurement is taken by cutting down the initial size of GSM paper into half along the widest dimension. For example, the next size that comes after A0 is A1. Thus, A1 is dictated by cutting A0 in half.

Here is a list of the most accepted sizes from a range of A0 which is the largest size, to A10 which is the smallest size.

  • A2 – 420 x 594 mm (or 16.54 x 23.39 inches)
    This size of GSM paper is used in maps, smaller posters or even diagrams.
  • A4 – 210 x 297 mm (or 8.27 x 11.69 inches)
    This size of GSM paper is used in magazines, catalogs, letters and documents.
  • A6 – 105 x 148 mm, or 4.13 x 5.83 in
    This size of GSM paper is used in postcards. It is also a common print size for photographic pictures.

ISO B Paper – Measurements and Sizes

Another common type of sizing schedule used for measuring GSM paper is ISO B. This standard of measurement is primarily used for poster sizing.

Similar to A0 size of paper, the B0 size is also the largest succeedingly going down to B10 which is the smallest measurement of GSM paper of this standard.

Here is a list of the commonly and globally accepted sizes from ISO B:

  • B4 – 250 x 353 mm (or 9.84 x 13.90 inches)
  • B2 – 500 x 707 mm (or 19.69 x 27.83 inches)
  • B0 – 1000 x 1414 mm (or 39.37 x 55.67 inches)

ISO C Paper – Measurements and Sizes

ISO C is another globally accepted standard of GSM paper measurement. However, here the only difference is that it is applicable to the sizes of envelopes that fit and correspond to the varied sizes of ISO A Paper.

Here is a list of the commonly and globally accepted sizes from ISO C:

  • C6 – 162 x 114 mm (or 6.38 x 4.49 inches)
  • C4 – 324 x 229 mm (or 12.76 x 9.02 inches)
  • C2 – 648 x 458 mm (or 25.51 x 18.03 inches)

Let’s Get Virtual

Graphic designing is a paradigm widely associated with paper, more often than not GSM paper. It is necessary to have a clash of the vibrant colors together to create something genuinely unique. How to differentiate one GSM paper from another and how to consume its optimal usage is something that you will learn in this YouTube tutorial.

Paper for Graphic Designers | gsm, textures & swatch books | Graphique Fantastique

In this YouTube video, you will learn about what GSM stands for, and how it has been a constant proponent of creativity in the world of graphic designing.

Here, the YouTuber also interests you in a book, or a guide of GSM paper neatly stacked up with different sizes of the paper and then glued together. So, if you are really really really interested in papers and graphic designing and can muster up the patience to sit through this comparatively longer video, then off you go young padawan. May the force be with you.

If you love drawing/painting, check Drawing Supplies page.


What does GSM stand for?

GSM in ‘GSM Paper’ stands for grams per square meter.

What can I use GSM paper for?

GSM paper is basically all sorts of paper that you use. It could be defined as a unit of measurement. It is used to differentiate between various textures of paper depending on their thickness.

What is the thinnest and thickest size of GSM paper?

The thinnest size of GSM paper ranges from 35 gsm to 55 gsm. This type of paper is mostly used for tracing and news printing. On the other hand, the sturdiest type of paper measures 350 gsm to 450 gsm and is primarily used for invitations and business cards.

Can I use 35 gsm paper for sketching or painting?

The 35 gsm paper is the thinnest GSM paper by the measures of weight, and it is not recommended to use it for sketching or painting. This is because it is comparatively less durable, thinner and easily bendable which would make it difficult to sketch on the paper. Furthermore, the ink from color pastels or oil pastels might seep through the paper, thus draining it and rupturing the art.

Which GSM paper is best for drawing?

It is recommended that you use GSM paper weighing between 90 gsm to 100 gsm if you would like to draw. This is because the weight of GSM paper is a combination of enough sturdiness and rigidity that is required for drawing on paper.

Which GSM paper is best for printing photographs?

If you would like to get a photograph printed, then it is recommended that you use GSM paper ranging between 210 gsm to 300 gsm. This type of paper is stiff yet bendable, and you can get a glossy texture on the finalized print.

What paper should I use for everyday household printer related work?

Well, you can easily rely on GSM paper for going about your household printer related work. The standardized GSM size for this type of work ranges between 90 gsm to 100 gsm. This type of paper would not let the ink seep through, and is highly flexible, which makes it suitable for being used as a printer paper.


Paper covers a varied portion of the substrata of industrialization. It can be used in schools for arts and craft related purposes and in legal corporations for reporting highly confidential information. In between this spectrum lie multiple other ways to creatively use paper in everyday life.

Thus, it is important to categorize the type of paper one needs to use depending on the feasibility and accountability of the sort of project one needs to do. The GSM paper is varied in its durability, reliability and effect, so tread lightly.

You can visit Wikipedia to know more about papers.

You can reach out to us in case you have any queries. We will for sure try to reply to your concerns as soon as possible.


Avni Deopura

Content Writer

An SEO Expert, a Prolific Content Writer, and a dreamer currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in Master of Science in Psychology from St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science. She is working as a Content Producer and Social Media Analyst.

End of ― “What is GSM Paper – The Ultimate Guide”

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