What paper should I use for a typewriter?
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This might be the shortest blog I will personally share with you as the question is common and my answer has always been the same to thousands of website visitors, clients, friends, typewriter newbies and enthusiasts.
What sort of paper do I need to type on a typewriter?
The simple reply is any A4 paper with paper weight around 85GSM.
But any paper within 85-100 GSM is considered suitable for a typewriter.
That is my recommendation for the best paper to use to type on a typewriter and always prefer adding a backing or supporting paper to preserve your platen and key heads and enhance your prints assuming your typewriter was genuinely restored and serviced.
The Second question have always been, what in the world is a "GSM"?
Its definitely not another typewriter jargon and stands for Grams per Square Meter (GSM) that is the metric used to indicate the thickness of the paper.
Interesting fact about that topic is that GSM is used to describe the thickness of the sheet when it is actually the weight of one square meter of the paper layers or substrate.
To summarise, The paper weight is a guide to how thick the sheet will be, the heavier the paper weight, generally the thicker the sheet is, but the true thickness will depend on how dense the fibres are compressed in the sheet.
When it comes to usage on typewriters, the thicker the paper than 85gsm, the harder to insert it under the platen and this will, in the long run, slightly damage to key heads. If the paper is too soft, paper will unfortunately slide on your platen from its fixed position and thus causing the line spacing to be random.
Between 70-100gsm is the average weight of an A4 piece of printer paper that you find in offices. If you take a look at the pack your printer paper comes in it, it’ll probably be around 80gsm – have a feel to give you a sense of the thickness of this weight.
Lets get more detailed about paper that we might use on our typewriters and differentiate between two main paper types, the coated and uncoated papers.
Uncoated paper is paper that has been made without a surface costing. As it does not have a coating it is more absorbent and softer in feel than coated stocks.
Coated paper has a surface coating that can be made from, clay, chalk or latex that effects the absorbency, smoothness, gloss and weight of the paper.
Generally, coating will make the paper more receptive to the printing of text, so that detail is sharper and colour is brighter and denser.
The coating can also be used to change the glossiness of the paper according to your preference, for example Matte, Silk or Gloss finishes.
Fun comparison on how paper thickness can feel is by checking items around our house.
- Tissue paper: 10-35GSM
- Old books : 35-70 GSM
- Office printer paper: 70-100 GSM
- Quality Letterhead: 100-120 GSM
- Flyers or posters: 150-200 GSM
- Greeting cards: 220+ GSM
Finally, you will ask, where to buy paper to type on typewriters?
You can find papers at any retailer that sells office supplies when I will avoid buy papers overpriced & newly labelled under "Typewriter paper" as its just normal paper that you can easily find online or locally without any effort and n bulk.
Until the next blog, Keep typing.
Note: All pictures show vintage typewriter papers from our personal collection that was sold back in the 1970s and 1980s for typewriter users.