Papers and boards

Types of papers and boards and their uses

Papers and boards are formed from wood pulp, which comes from trees. This squishy wood pulp is rolled out into thin sheets in paper mill factories to form the papers and boards that we use.


Papers are made from wood pulp. Their density is measured by their weight, in grams per square metre (gsm) - the thinner the paper the lower the gsm.

PaperPhysical propertiesWorking properties
Cartridge paper - used for drawingThick, textured, roughExpensive and opaque, used for ink and watercolour
Tracing paper - used for developing ideas, to trace ideas from one sheet to anotherTranslucent (see-through), smoothShiny, takes pencil well
Copier paper - used for inkjet and laser printers to print from a computerThin, lightweight, bleached paperTakes colour well, readily available, can jam printer mechanisms
A pencil sketch of a design on tracing paper.
Tracing paper


Board thickness is measured in microns or grams per square metre (gsm) - the thinner the card the lower the microns or gsm.

BoardPhysical propertiesWorking properties
Corrugated card - used for packaging electrical products (absorbs impact) or hot food (good insulator)Paper bonded to the outsideCorrugations make it strong, protective and insulating
Solid white board - used for model making, packaging, cosmetic productsSmooth on both sidesStiff, can be cut or scored
Folding box board - used for packaging food products, eg cereal boxesMade of three layers - a printable top surface, an unbleached centre layer and a bleached inside layerGood for scoring without splitting, accepts print well, not as strong as solid white board.
A close-up view of rolled up corrugated card in green and brown.
Corrugated card