January 2006, V5#1: Production Thursday, Jan 29 2009 

Basic Paper Primer

Paper  weight is based on the basic size of a given paper as determined by a given mill.  For this reason, many weight notations one finds has at least 2 separate numbers.  This does not necessarily mean the weight fluctuates between the two.  Generally with printers and suppliers is not a range, but a definition from more than one source and may include more than one grade of paper (bond, text, etc.).  A 50/60# paper is ordered as 50# and as 60#.  However, when put through standardized testing, it is found that each sheet carries the same weight. All specifics supplied If in doubt, check with the business presenting the number information for formal explanation.  Gregath paper suppliers do recognize the standard variation in basis weight of + or – 5% as acceptable by industry standards.

Paper brightness affects the legibility and contrast of printing.  The brightness test measures the reluctance of paper under strict optimal conditions and related it to a white standard (Magnesium Oxide).  The test is mainly applicable to white paper grades.  Basic offset grades are usually in the 80% brightness range.  Aesthetic importance may also be given to the brighter papers.  However, if archival quality is a focus, one must be certain that it is not traded for the brightness.  White papers with 90+ brightness sometimes actually have a blue or colored cast due to additives. 


December 2005, V4#12: Production Thursday, Jan 29 2009 

A Little About Archival Quality

External Factors Beyond Production

If the books are shipped from the publisher to the author, the heat of summer or the cold of winter will subject the books to extremes in temperature. Humidity can become a factor, even before the books are sold, especially in the summer in the south.  Books stored where light from a window falls on them directly subjects them to harmful UV.  Highly urban areas may have high air pollution that could affect the books. Skin itself (body oil, sweat, finger food grease, etc.), from the reader, can adversely affect the book, as well.  The list can go on and on…

November 2005, V4#11: Production Thursday, Jan 29 2009 

A Little About Archival Quality

External Factors – Production

  • Offset Printing (generally 100 or more books)

Offset printing involves chemicals which may overcome the buffering of the standard paper to some extent.  The process takes place at room temperature with standard lighting and both sides of the page are printed at once.  We use a non-oxidizing, rubber base ink (pH-N/A) rather than an oil base.

  • Digital Printing (generally 99 or fewer books)

The paper is subjected to high heat and light during the initial transfer process.  Note it goes through this process twice for book pages, once for each side.  The black powder toner seems to have quite a resistance to secondary heat sources.

November 2005, V4#11: Design Thursday, Jan 29 2009 

Quality: To publish or not to publish?
Don’t make the mistake of feeling the need of a perfect book before you get your genealogy in print.  Especially with the “archival quality” push lately, some authors are choosing the budget needed for their own definition of archival quality as a reason for not publishing.  If you don’t feel comfortable publishing in a printed format on your budget, consider offering your information in electronic form – with a printed book to come in the future.

This section is drawn from

September 2005, V4#9: Production Thursday, Jan 29 2009 

A Little About Archival Quality

Internal Factors

The Gregath Publishing Company has a standard paper basis that all quotations and projects are based on unless the customer requests something different.  Our standard fine text paper is a 20/50#, uncoated, white, acid free paper.  This paper meets American National Standards Institute specifications for “Permanence of Paper”.  The paper is manufactured with chemical pulp under alkaline conditions.  Being of a very high benchmark (various ANSI and National Information Standards Organization standards), this paper meets these four basic requirements:

  • pH of 7.5-10 (balanced to archival)

  • A tear resistance of md index>5.25mNm2/6g which corresponds to a minimum of 40 gf.

  • Alkaline reserve: minimum of 2% calcium carbonate equivalent (buffered)

  • Less than 1% lignin (acidic)

This paper also earns “high” to “maximum” life expectancy for “Copies for Office Copying Machines” as established by ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials).  This typically applies to xerocopy and digital grades.  While we have yet to find a published expected life span for permanent papers, ASTM suggests in their specification that paper meeting the high classification of this standard may be “usable” for 100 to 1,000 years.  Please note that the ASTM suggestion of usable means it can still be reproduced upon.  A reader can enjoy books printed on paper that is way past this “usable” stage of it’s life.

March 2005, V4#3: Marketing Wednesday, Jan 28 2009 

Marketing is promotion!  To promote a book, good things about the book contents, yourself, your family (if genealogy) or area (if research tool), and history, as well at the physical form the book takes will be pointed out. These are all selling points.  Don’t overlook something that is positive because it wasn’t the main publishing focus.  For instance, archival quality is becoming a much talked about and sought after element in reference book publishing.  Whether this was of high priority for the author personally, it may contribute to sales if it is publicized.