I have been asked on a regular basis to include comments on paper, since paper is such an important part of the overall writing experience.

I have been reluctant to do so because of market availability of various brands of paper as well as a review of the characteristics of paper depends in part on the ink, the nib, the ink flow of the pen. What could be excellent paper to one person may not be so for another. Paper I have come across in say Florence may be great, but the ability to buy it, or to ensure a consistent supplier is more difficult.

That being said, there are some general comments on the "big brands" of paper that I am pleased to pass along.

Clairefontaine and Rhodia are two well known lines of paper, have great quality control and consistency in product. Moleskine is also well known, but as I comment, not the best paper for fountain pens. Other brands that will be included will be Crane Paper - very good quality stationery, as well as some of the office paper and pads that may be available. Although office writings pads vary in consistency and are limited to particular markets.

Wood Pulp Paper

Most of the paper we used in writing pads, agenda, notepads and sheets of paper we have in the office is made from wood pulp. The quality of the individual paper product depends on the quality of the wood pulp. Some of the products that are made from wood pulp include Moleskine, Rhodia and Clairefontaine.

Cotton Fiber Paper

The cotton fiber adds another dimension to the paper. Products using cotton fibre include Carne and Pineider.

Handmade Paper

Fabriano is one of the manufactures that comes to mind. There are a variety of producers.

Paper Finishes

The finish, or surface characteristicss, is what we think of as the feel of the paper. Smooth or rough. Glossy or dull. The finishes can result from a process during the manufacturing process or at the end. A laid finish, for example, can be from the result of a marking roller while the paper is wet. If rollers were to be used after the paper is "offline", then the paper is considered to have an embossed finishes. offers a summary of common finishes:

  • Cockle finish simulates characteristics of hand made paper with a wavy, rippled, puckered finish. The effect is obtained by air drying the paper under minimum tension.
  • Felt is a soft texture on uncoated paper that is created during the papermaking process with a either felt covered roller or with a rubber roller with a felt pattern that creates the finish. It can also be accomplished as an offline process. The felt finish does not affect the strength of the paper.
  • Gloss finish produces a shiny and reflective surface on one or both sides of certain coated papers. A higher gloss is usually seen on higher quality coated papers. The gloss finish is produced from compounds added during the paper making process.
  • Laid finish has the appearance of translucent lines running horizontally and vertically in the paper. It is produced during the papermaking process with a special roller that creates the pattern in the wet paper.
  • Linen finished paper resembles linen cloth and is usually produced after the papermaking process as an offline embossing process.
  • Matt finish on certain coated papers that is smooth but gives a dull appearance. A matte finish, as well as other types of coated paper, are good choices for print jobs in which high quality is required.
  • Parchment paper finish that has an old or antique appearance and is the result of washing Sulphuric acid over the paper and then quickly neutralizing the acid wash. This process melts the outer paper fibres which fill the voids in the rest of the paper. Parchment is very durable and grease resistant.
  • Smooth finish is the result of the paper passing through sets of rollers during the papermaking process. This process is known as calendering.
  • Vellum finish has an eggshell appearance and is consistent and even but not as much as a smooth finish. Vellum is one of the most popular uncoated finishes and paper with this finish has a high ink absorbency rate.
  • Wove finish in uncoated paper with a slight texture made by a felt roller covered in woven wire.

I hope you find the comments on paper interesting and helpful.