Exploring Thin Printing Paper

from Dictionary to Bible

Thin Printing Paper

Thin Printing Paper

Thin Printing Paper, also known as dictionary paper or Bible paper, is an extremely thin printing paper that belongs to the category of low-weight printing and publishing paper. Thin Printing Paper combines several advantages: lightweight, high strength, and good ink absorption. It is made from a variety of raw materials, ranging from cotton linters to wood pulp.

  1. Dictionary paper is a type of thin book paper known for its thinness, strength, whiteness, smoothness, and slight water resistance. It is primarily produced in roll form but can also be manufactured in sheet form. Roll widths typically range from 787mm to 880mm, while sheet sizes are commonly 787mm x 1092mm and 880mm x 1230mm. It is mainly used for printing dictionaries, manuals, classic books, and other books with many pages that are easy to carry.
  1. Bible paper is a printing paper used for printing heavyweight books such as Bibles, pocketbooks, and reference books. Its prominent feature is its thinness and high opacity. By using Bible paper, books with the same thickness (identical layout and font size) can accommodate almost twice as much text compared to using regular offset paper.
  1. Due to its characteristics such as foldability, thinness, high opacity, and uniformity, Thin Printing Paper is widely used in various fields including pharmaceutical leaflets, cosmetic instructions, and electronics product manuals.

Currently, the market distinguishes Thin Printing Paper primarily based on hue, including natural white, high white, and cream, with different hues and opacities used for different printing products.

History of Bible Paper:

The first person to use Bible paper as a printing substrate was Thomas Combe, a printer at the University of Oxford. Thomas Combe accidentally discovered the exceptional stretch, toughness, and strength of Bible paper while working at a pottery kiln in Staffordshire. This type of paper, initially called “Indian paper,” was first produced by recycling cables from ships. Since 1875, it has been widely used for printing Bibles and other religious books.

Chinese Bible

Chinese Bible

Performance and Uses of Bible Paper:

Bible paper is a thin, high-quality printing paper made from wood fiber pulp, known for its thinness, high opacity, strength, whiteness, smoothness, slight transparency, and some degree of water resistance. It is mainly used for printing Bibles, dictionaries, reference books, and other religious books with many pages that are easy to carry, and also to save on air freight costs. Nowadays, Bible paper is also used for printing materials for air express delivery.

The market for Bible Paper:

Due to the low basis weight and high requirements of Bible paper products, their processing difficulty and cost are high. In the past, China could only import Bible paper to print Bibles and some high-end dictionaries. With the rapid development of China’s economy and cultural publishing industry, changes in printing methods have led to a year-on-year increase in the demand for Bible paper. After years of effort, domestic Bible paper products can now fully meet domestic demand and are exported to Asia, Europe, and other regions in large quantities.

Improvement of Bible Paper Product Specifications:

Bible paper products typically have a low basis weight, usually ranging from 25g/m2 to 40g/m2, with many small symbols such as letters, Arabic numerals, and punctuation marks in books. Therefore, high requirements are placed on the opacity, D65 brightness, two-sided smoothness difference, thickness, and surface strength of the paper. These specifications can be improved to a higher level by using surface coating techniques.

Bible paper’s high opacity is achieved by adding titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a filler, which is widely used in Bible paper production. However, the high cost and low retention rate of TiO2 result in high production costs for high-opacity Bible paper.

titanium dioxide

titanium dioxide

Specifications for Dictionary Paper Products:



Dictionary paper requires high resistance to tearing despite its thinness when used on web offset printing presses. It should be bright white, smooth, and highly opaque to ensure clear printing of small fonts. The brightness of dictionary paper should be between 77% and 79%, with a longitudinal and transverse tearing length averaging between 2300m and 2500m, and an opacity of no less than 70% to 81%. During printing, there should be no linting or dusting, and the surface should be free from dust and spots.

In conclusion, Thin Printing Paper, which includes both dictionary paper and Bible paper, is a versatile and essential material in the world of printing. From its early days in historical printing to its wide range of modern applications, Thin Printing Paper has been crucial for sharing knowledge and information. With ongoing improvements in manufacturing techniques and product quality, Thin Printing Paper continues to be a fundamental part of the printing industry, meeting the changing needs of publishers and readers.

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Thin Printing Paper