Home > News > Industry News >

What kind of paper are magazines printed on?

Published time: 2014-06-18 16:22

Lifting a web roll of magazine paper (large roll of paper)Magazines are printed on very thin gloss text. Magazines with very high circulation (think: tens of thousands of copy) print on the thinnest types of gloss text (45 lb to 60 lb). When people are talk about magazine paper, that’s what they’re talking about.

If you’re starting out a magazine without heavy circulation, it is difficult to obtain the lightest gloss paper weights. They’re sold and printed (see Wikipedia’s article about web-fed offset printing) in giant rolls called “web rolls”, and there is a heavy setup/run cost.

However, you do have a few great options if you want to print a short run magazine! Today we’re going to talk about two of your options:

  • Buy 80 lb gloss text at an office supply store to print at home
  • Print your magazines through a digital printing company, because they have access to thin gloss paper weights like 60 lb gloss text

My goal is to do more than answer what kind of paper magazines are printed on. I want to also give you a few tips about where to go for magazine paper if you’re just starting out with a short run of magazine printing.

Printing on magazine paper at a digital printing company

If you want to do short run magazine printing, you’re going to go with 60 lb gloss text. It’s a fantastic paper weight for making your magazine look like it was professionally made.

If you print your short run magazines at a digital printing company, you gain access to 60 lb gloss text. A few digital printing companies—but not all—carry 60 lb gloss text weight in stock. (Many printing companies store 80 lb gloss text as their thinnest paper type.) we call 60 lb gloss paper the “ultra thin gloss paper”.

By the way—when I refer to a “digital printing company”, I’m referring to printing companies that print on digital printing presses. Digital printing presses utilize computers and other digital technologies more heavily, and tend to be what short to mid-size runs are printed on.

Also: it’s not feasible to order a paper weight like 60 lb gloss text and print it at home. 60 lb gloss text—for digital printing—is typically sold on pallets in very large (parent) sized sheets. Makes sense to buy pallets of 60 lb gloss text for a printing company, but not for printing magazines at home.

Printing magazines at home: 80 lb gloss text at an office supply store

If you want to print and bind a magazine at home, you can order a thicker gloss paper weight. Your local office supply store—like Staples—contains reams of 80 lb gloss text in 8.5×11”. It feels a bit thicker than what people usually call “magazine paper”, because it feels like a thicker paper weight.

You can buy 80 lb gloss paper—for printing and binding a magazine at home—at Staples. At the time of posting, the listing is for $22.99 for 500 sheets.

Here’s an example of a web-fed offset press

This is an example of the kind of web-fed offset press that would be used for printing a magazine. Long-run magazine print jobs that can utilize these kinds of presses can be printed on the thinnest sheets of gloss text.

Magazine paper being printed on large web-fed presses