What Makes Magazine Paper Different?

Person holding a magazine

Last updated on March 13th, 2023 at 04:13 pm

Magazines are printed on very thin gloss text. Magazines with very high circulation (think: tens of thousands of copies) print on the thinnest types of gloss text (45 lb to 60 lb). When people talk about magazine paper, that’s what they’re talking about.

Large rolls of paper use for web-fed offset printing.

If you’re starting out with short run magazine printing without heavy circulation, it is difficult to obtain the lightest gloss paper weights. They’re sold and printed (see Wikipedia’s article about web-fed offset printing) in giant rolls called “web rolls”, and there is a heavy setup/run cost.

However, you do have a few great options if you want to print a short run magazine! Today we’re going to talk about two of your options:

  • Buy 80 lb gloss text at an office supply store to print at home
  • Print your magazines through a digital printing company—like Printivity—because they have access to thin gloss paper weights like 60 lb gloss text

Creating booklets is not a fast process and will always be done correctly by professionals. However, you can try making booklets yourself if you are only planning on making a couple of books, and high-quality is not your biggest priority.

My goal is to do more than answer what kind of paper magazines are printed on. I also want to give you a few tips about where to go for a magazine paper if you’re just starting out with a short run of magazine printing.

Get 20% off your first order at Printivity banner ad

Best Magazine Binding

The most common magazine binding types are saddle stitch booklets or perfect bound books. Both options will give your magazine a professional look, but one type might fit better for your project.

Saddle Stitch Booklet Printing

These booklets are made by folding sheets of paper and using 2 staples to hold them together. This method means that your page count needs to be divisible by 4. Also, the minimum page count is 4 pages with a maximum of 64 pages. The staples allow for your magazine to be lightweight and have lay-flat capabilities.

Perfect Bound Book Printing

The pages to this binding type are cut to size and bound with glue to the covers of the book. This binding process creates a square spine that can allow for printing on the spine. The page count minimum in perfect bound books is 30 pages with a 400 page maximum. We recommend upgrading to a PUR Perfect Bound book with higher page count magazines due to the 40% stronger glue.

For a more descriptive explanation of the book binding types available, check out our infographic!

Printing on magazine paper at a digital printing company like Printivity

If you want to do short run magazine printing, you’re going to go with 60 lb gloss text. It’s a fantastic paper weight for making your magazine look like it was professionally made.

If you print your short run magazines at a digital printing company, you gain access to 60 lb gloss text. A few digital printing companies—but not all—carry 60 lb gloss text weight in stock. (Many printing companies store 80 lb gloss text as their thinnest paper type.) At Printivity, we call 60 lb gloss paper the “ultra thin gloss paper”.

By the way—when I refer to a “digital printing company”, I’m referring to printing companies that print on digital printing presses. Digital printing presses utilize computers and other digital technologies more heavily, and tend to be what short to mid-size runs are printed on.

Also: it’s not feasible to order a paper weight like 60 lb gloss text and print it at home. 60 lb gloss text—for digital printing—is typically sold on pallets in very large (parent) sized sheets. Since you will not have the equipment need to cut down these sheets, you would not be able to produce this at home.

Call Printivity for a Sample Kit

Printivity offers complimentary paper samples kits that include magazine samples as well. Call our customer service department for expert recommendations on paper types at 1-877-649-5463.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here