What Is Bond Paper?

Bond paper is common in homes and offices

Bond paper is a durable paper that is suitable for electronic printing and use in office machines, including copiers and network and desktop printers. People typically use it for letterhead, stationery, business forms, and a variety of documents produced with inkjet and laser printers. For example, many of the invoices you receive in the mail are printed on bond paper.

Lifewire / Andrea Hickey

Paper Size and Weight

Bond paper has a basic size of 17x22 inches and, usually, a basis weight of 20 pounds. A paper's basis weight is determined by the weight of 500 sheets of paper at its basic size. In the case of 20-pound bond paper, 500 sheets of 17x22 inch bond paper weigh 20 pounds. Even when the large sheet is cut down to other sizes, including the frequently used 8.5x11 inch size, it is still referred to as 20-pound paper.

Even though 20-pound bond is the most common weight, bond paper comes in other weights that range from 16-pound to 36-pound. The higher the number, the heavier and thicker the sheet of paper. It also comes in various sizes, although the standard letter page size, 8.5x11 inches, is the most common. It is also available in legal size, which is 8.5x14 inches, and 11x17 inch tabloid size, among other dimensions.

Paper Quantities

Erasability, excellent absorption, and rigidity characterize bond paper. The bond paper sold in office supply stores typically comes in letter-sized reams of 500 sheets, sold individually or by the case. White is the most common color, but bond papers come in pastels, neon brights, and other assorted colors.

Smaller packs of specialty bond paper with designs or special finishes usually are available in smaller packs of 50 to 100 sheets. Frequently, these are sold for use as do-it-yourself letterhead or flyers. Also suitable for use as a writing paper, bond papers come in a variety of finishes and textures, including cockle, laid, linen, and wove.

Other Paper Specifications

Other specifications found on bond paper packages are its brightness, whether it is coated or uncoated, and whether it is watermarked. The majority of bond paper used in home and office environments is uncoated and not watermarked.


A paper's brightness measures the amount of reflectance of a specific wavelength of blue light. Brightness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 — the higher the number, the brighter the paper. In other words, 95 bright paper reflects more light and appears brighter than an 85 bright paper.

Coated vs. Uncoated

Coated paper restricts the amount of ink that is absorbed and how the ink bleeds into the paper. This is desirable for sharp and complex images because the ink stays on top of the paper and does not wick or bleed, which reduces the sharpness of the printed material. Uncoated paper is generally not as smooth as coated paper and tends to be more porous. Uncoated paper is usually used for letterhead, envelopes, and printed material.

Watermarked Paper

Watermarked paper has a faint identifying image or pattern in the paper that appears as various shades of lightness or darkness when viewed. When you hold the paper up to the light, you can see an identifying mark or brand coming through the paper.

When it comes to stationery, a watermark seems elegant and sophisticated. Paper currency is usually printed on watermarked paper as an anti-counterfeiting measure.

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