What Is Index Paper?

Select affordable index for your print designs

Young woman sitting on the couch reading magazine
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Index is a stiff but not thick card stock with a smooth finish. It is a popular choice for business reply cards sent in the direct mail or found in the folds of many magazines. It is also used for some postcards and index cards. Index is a durable workhorse at most commercial printing companies. It takes ink well, and it is relatively inexpensive when compared with other cover-weight stocks. Although the smooth finish is most familiar, it is also available in a vellum finish, sometimes as a special order.

When to Use Index

  • When your project requires a stiff but attractive paper.
  • When the printed project is going out through the mail.
  • When you are looking for a budget-friendly cover option.
  • Whenever durability is desirable.
  • When you are designing table tents, file folders, divider pages, rack cards or index cards.

Choosing Index for a Print Project

Index has a smooth, hard surface and comes in three weights: 90 lb., 110 lb. and 140 lb. These weights are determined by weighing 500 sheets of the index in its basic size of 25.5 inches by 30.5 inches. Specify the lighter-weight 90 lb. index when you are designing brochures or return email cards because the lighter weight saves on mailing costs. The 110 lb. index is more suitable for folders, tabs and index cards, while the 140 lb. weight is for heavy-weight print projects.

Index comes in a limited range of pale colors. White, ivory, canary, blue, green and pink are commonly stocked by commercial printing companies.

If your design calls for folding, the index may need to be scored before it is folded to prevent cracking. This could add cost to your print project. It may be that you can get by with folding without a score on the lightweight 90 lb. index as long as it is folded parallel to the grain of the paper. Folds that are made against the grain of the paper exhibit unattractive cracking while folds with the grain are smooth.