Selecting Paper for Calligraphy

If you or your kids have developed an interest in calligraphy, you probably will need to learn how to identify a high quality paper. Most people, however, have no idea where to start, not to mention that they barely know that there is a specific type of paper that is used in calligraphy.

How to Choose the Right Calligraphy Paper

Here are a few tips on what to look out for when looking to purchase the right calligraphy paper.

Sized paper

Sizing refers to a process of treating paper surfaces that prevents ink from being absorbed into the paper fibers. Calligraphy requires sharp clean strokes and as such, a paper that will not become messy is best for all your calligraphy projects.

Paper surface

The most commonly used and recommended paper surface for calligraphy is smooth. This is because a smooth surface allows for neat strokes and easy gliding of your calligraphy marker. Some papers with a little roughness are also great for calligraphy due to their great ability to hold ink.

Neutral pH or acid-free paper

Regular paper usually deteriorates and begins to yellow over time. The best paper for calligraphy, however, should be able to last for long without becoming brittle. The best paper for calligraphy is one with a neutral pH or is acid-free. This ensures that it will last for a long time even when exposed to light.


Calligraphy papers generally come in different sizes. Lighter papers like 70 and 90lbs are best for small calligraphy projects that only require simple drawing or lettering. For bigger and more detailed calligraphy jobs, a heavier paper will do better. This is because more weight provides a more rigid paper surface.

Regular or ‘rag’ paper

Even with the regular papers available, there is a different type of paper known as the ‘rag’ paper. It is made using natural fibers like linen and cotton and has a gelatin size. It has a neutral pH, which means that it will last for long without becoming brittle or yellowing. Rag papers are also excellent for calligraphy.

Papers You Should Avoid For a Calligraphy Project

You can do calligraphy on pretty much any kind of paper. However, your choice of paper will determine how clean your work will be. This is because of the differentiating features that make each paper unique for specific writing needs. Papers you should avoid for a calligraphy project include:

Card stock: card stock is undeniably beautiful and widely available. You have a large color choice to choose from and the paper looks smooth enough to produce the perfect calligraphy designs. However, it bleeds and sometimes so much that your project will be nothing short of a mess.

Regular paper for pens: regular paper is not as thick as a calligraphy paper, which means that it might not be able to absorb ink as well. It is also very light and becomes brittle easily, thus making it unsuitable for serious calligraphy work that requires to be stored.

Office bond: bond paper is a good option to be used by beginners for practice. But it also tends to bleed a lot, which is not a good feature of calligraphy papers.

Pastel paper: this paper can be mistaken for a good calligraphy paper at first but it bleeds after a while. It leaves heavy ink coverage on parts where you move your hand slower. The end result can be a complete mess.