Characteristics and Uses of Newsprint Paper

The paper used for your daily news

Newspapers stacked on top of each other

Jay Phil Dangeros / EyeEm / Getty Images

Newsprint is an inexpensive paper made primarily of ground wood pulp. It is most recognizable for its use in daily newspapers, although some comic books and trade magazines also use it. It has a shorter lifespan than other papers, but it is cheap to produce in bulk and is the least expensive paper that can withstand the normal printing process. 

Grades of Newsprint

  • Standard News is the newsprint grade used to print most newspapers. 
  • Improved Newsprint has a higher brightness, basis weight, and smoother surface. It is used specifically printing color photos. Some newspapers use Improved Newsprint on some pages that carry color images and Standard News on the other pages.
  • Specialty News is the grade used for advertising materials like the pieces that are inserted into major Sunday newspaper editions.
  • Colored News is pastel-tinted newsprint that is usually used on tabloid inserts into the paper.
  • Directory Paper is used when printing telephone books or catalogs.

Characteristics of Newsprint

  • Brightness. A perfectly bright paper is rated at 100 percent brightness. Newsprint brightness ranges from 56 to 59, which is on the low side. 
  • The weight of most newsprint is 30 lb. This is based on the actual weight of 500 sheets of the paper at its basic size of 24 inches by 36 inches.

Designing for Newsprint

Newsprint is rarely printed on offset sheet-fed presses because it is thin and flexible. Instead, it is manufactured on large rolls and run on a web press. Often the publication is collated, folded and trimmed as it comes off the press. Most local commercial printers do not have a web press, which is a huge piece of equipment. Look for a printer that specializes in web printing. 

As far as setting up your digital files goes, set them up as you would for any multi-page document. Check with the printing company for any special requirements. The company will likely handle the necessary imposition to deliver the publication with all the pages in the correct order.

Newsprint Trivia

  • Its wood pulp origins make newsprint more desirable for garden and composting use than other papers.
  • Approximately 80 percent of the newsprint in North America is used in daily newspapers.
  • Recycling one stack of newspapers about 6 feet tall saves the life of one 35-foot-tall tree.
  • Print circulation of newspapers declined 9 percent in 2015.
  • More than 70 percent of old newspapers in the U.S. are recycled. The most common use of recycled newspaper fiber is the creation of new newsprint.