Types of Paper

There are many different types of paper that are used for craft purposes. Explore the world of paper so you understand the different terms.
Paper and card are made by the same process, the only difference is in how thick the finished product is.  

Paper can be categorized by size,  weight or thickness. 

Paper comes in many different forms, from very thin tissue paper to thick paperboard.

There are as many uses as there are types of paper, depending on it's thickness and finish.

We use paper almost every day for writing or printing.

It is also used to make newspapers, magazines, business cards, packaging materials, even the cups from your local coffee shop can be made from paper. Many different types of paper are used for a whole range of craft projects. 

Click on one of the images or text links below to take you directly to information about that type of paper or scroll down to read each entry. There's a button under each entry to bring you back here to the quick links menu. 

Paper by Weight

The weight of paper is usually measured in grams per square inch (gsm).

This form of measurement allows the user to compare different types of paper in a standard way.

A piece of paper that is 100gsm will be thicker than a piece of paper that is 80gsm no matter what type of paper is used.


By Jonathan Joseph Bondhus (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Another way of measuring the weight of paper in pounds (lb) and is the basis weight of a ream (usually 500 sheets) of paper.

What is Cardboard?

Paper over a weight of 50 lb or 130 gsm is usually referred to as cardboard.

Card can be just one thick sheet of paper or several thin sheets glued together.

One thick sheet of card will not fold or bend as easily as several sheets laminated together. 

corrugated cardboard box

Cardboard is just a heavier type of paper. Corrugated card is made by gluing a layer of fluted paper between two or more flat sheets of paper.

Paper Sizes

The size is usually based on the International Standard (ISO 216).

The largest being A0 which measures 841 by 1,189 mm (33.11 × 46.81 in).

Each subsequent size is half the size of the one before it, therefore A1 is half the size of A0 and A2 is half the size of A1 etc.

The diagram on the right shows some of the different paper sizes.

paper sizes

Paper Thickness

Paper can also be measured by the thickness of a single sheet to the thousands of an inch.

So a piece of paper measuring 0.006 of an inch would be referred to as 6 points.

A sheet of copy paper is around 0.004 inches thick or 4 points.

Paper thickness

Tissue paper is very thin and is used to describe paper that is under 40 gsm. It has many uses from disposable facial tissues and toilet paper to the brightly colored tissue paper we use for crafts.

Crepe paper is of the same weight as tissue paper but it's surface is coated in glue and scraped and stretched during the production process.

Cardboard is a thick type of paper, the thickest being corrugated cardboard. 

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Types of Paper for Craft Ideas

Tissue Paper


  • Thin paper.
  • Smooth surface.
  • Bright colors.
  • Not usually colorfast.


Tissue paper flowers or jewels, papier mache or papel picado.

Can be shredded for packaging or used as gift wrap.


Tissue paper for crafts is usually sold in rolls but can be bought in sheets.

Tissue paper is inexpensive but try to make sure you get good quality tissue.

The type sold for kids or for shredding can be very thin and tears far too easily.

Crepe Paper


  • Thin paper
  • Crinkled surface
  • Can be stretched easily
  • Often brightly colored
  • Not usually colorfast


Crepe paper flowers, papier mache, kids crafts and can be used as gift wrap.


Usually sold in rolls.

The color will bleed if you get the paper wet which can be used to good effect in some craft projects.

The dyes can stain your fingers but it will wash off.

Copy Paper


  • Multipurpose medium weight paper
  • Smooth surface
  • Usually white, other colors are available


Printing, decoupage, paper making, drawing and colouring crafts. 


This can be purchased any where.

This is the sort of paper you use in a printer.

Scrapbook Papers


  • Various weight papers
  • Patterned or plain


Scrapbooking, card making or decoupage.


A huge range can be found in craft supply shops.

Decoupage Paper


  • Various weights and finishes
  • Patterns, images or plain


Decoupage, card making or scrapbooking.


There are huge ranges of decoupage papers in craft shops.

Some of theses have images like flowers or fairies for you to cut out.

Origami Paper


  • Thin paper that is easy to fold
  • Usually colored or patterned on both sides 
  • Sometimes white or contrasting color on the reverse side 


Origami, scrap booking or card making.


Can be expensive.

It is great for retaining the folds necessary in origami.

Usually sold in squares.

Mulberry Paper


  • Handmade paper from the mulberry plant
  • Medium thickness
  • Various colors


Scrapbooking, decoupage, card making, gift tags or papier mache


The easiest way to tear mulberry paper is to wet along the area you want to tear. You will get a nice fuzzy edge that looks great in lots of craft projects.

Washi Paper


  • Handmade thick paper
  • Long fibres
  • Uneven surface


Flower making, papier mache or decoupage


This is expensive but it's lovely to use.

Similar to mulberry paper but thicker and very soft.

If you tear it you get a very uneven edge with long fibres on one side or the other.

Construction Paper/Sugar Paper


  • Light to medium weight multipurpose paper
  • Slightly rough surface
  • Wide range of colors


Widely used in kids crafts. Papier mache, decoupage, printing, picture making, scrapbooking, paper hats or masks.


It's cheap, cheerful and has 100's of uses.

Kraft Paper


  • Strong paper
  • Usually brown but can be found bleached


Bags, gift wrap, envelopes, paper mache and many kids crafts.


Kraft paper can be bought in sheets or rolls.

It can also be recycled so keep your paper shopping bags for your next craft project.



  • Thin to medium paper
  • Low cost but tough
  • Usually white but can be colored
  • Newspapers will already be printed on but can still be used for loads of craft projects


Papier mache, decoupage or scrapbooking


This is the type of paper they use for making newspapers.

You can buy it unprinted in packs or on a roll.

Or you can recycle your old newspapers. 



  • Very thin but tough paper
  • Translucent
  • Can be plain or patterned


Parchment crafts, card making, printing, stamping or embossing.


Modern parchment or vellum is made from vegetable pulp that has been treated with sulfuric acid.

Watercolor Paper


  • Thick paper or board
  • Rough surface
  • Usually white


Painting, card making or stamping.


For best results watercolor paper should be stretched before use. Get the whole sheet of paper wet then use brown gummed tape to fix it to a board and leave it to dry.
Leave it fixed to the board when you are painting and it shouldn't buckle or warp.

Rice Paper


  • Made from the rice plant
  • Rough surface
  • Translucent finish
  • Usually white


Painting, drawing, calligraphy, printing or scrap booking.


This type of true rice paper is not very common and can be expensive.

Edible Rice Paper


  • Made from starch
  • Thin edible paper


Used for making spring rolls, cake toppers, edible flowers and macaroons.


Used for all types of food crafts particularly with cake toppers and sweets.

Card Stock


  • Medium to thick paper
  • Wide range of colors
  • Various finishes


Boxes, cards, cut outs, masks or models.


This usually refers to paper that is thicker than printable copy paper but thinner than paper board.

Paper Board


  • Thick paper
  • Wide range of colors
  • Various finishes


Book covers, packaging, postcards and board books


It is heavy duty paper and is very easy to cut.

It is often used to create sculptures.



  • Generic term for any paper heavier than 130gsm


Any craft project that uses card.


I use this term throughout my site when refering to any board thicker than copy paper.

Corrugated Cardboard


  • Two or more layers of paper with a fluted layer between them
  • In crafts it can refer to just the fluted card 
  • Usually brown or white but can be found in many other colors


Great for making dolls houses  and large toys for kids like cars or ovens.

Can also be used for packaging.

Often used to create an internal support for large papier mache sculptures. 

The fluted card is often used in card making, scrapbooking and collages.


Many crafts use just the fluted layer of card to add texture and interest to a project.

This is by no means a complete list but it should give you an idea of the wide range of papers available.

More About Paper


Wikipedia, 2012, Paper size. [online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_sizes
[Accessed on 7 August 2012]

Wikipedia, 2012, Card Stock. [online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_stock
[Accessed on 7 August 2012]

Wikipedia, 2012, Paper Density. [online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_density
[Accessed on 7 August 2012]

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