Card Stock vs. Cover Stock

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Card Stock vs. Cover Stock: History

Card stocks are also called as cover stocks or paste boards. It originates from Europe and was used as a replacement to wood for binding purposes.

Historical Insights

  • In 1889, Oscar Friedheim card cutting and scoring machine was used for cutting card stocks.
  • The machine had the ability to produce 100,000 visiting cards per day.

Vellum Card Stock

  • Vellum card stock is a type of card stock made up of vellum. It is a writing material made from kidskin, calfskin, or lambskin.
  • Its origin was first registered in Ancient Rome and used in Europe for bookmaking for writing, drawing, and painting.
  • In modern times, ancient vellum was replaced by parchment papers.

History of Paste Boards

  • Card stocks are also called as cover stocks or paste boards.
  • Paste boards were used in Europe during the second quarter of 16th century. It was used as a replacement to wood for binding purposes.
  • However, in 17th century, paste boards were replaced by rope-fiber millboards.
  • By 1508, pasteboards were used for binding and by 1520, pasteboards were adopted in England.

Other Relevant Insights

  • Card stocks are used for making business cards, brochures, menus, programs, and crafts. On the other hand, cover stocks are used for making greeting cards, invitation cards, flat cards, posters, etc.
  • Cover stocks are of two types — Bristol and index. Index cover stocks can be coated and uncoated.
  • Card stocks can be matte, colorful, glossy, patterned, mirrored, glittered, etc.


Despite a comprehensive search, we were unable to identify the history behind card stocks or cover stocks. This is because information concerning the said subject is scarce in the public domain. The following strategies were deployed to discover the required data:

We analyzed several card stock and print industry articles and press releases such as printingforless, printmoz, thepapermillstore, etc. We only found information on the application of card stocks or cover stocks. This led us to look for historical information on the use of card stocks or cover stocks on keetonsonline, illinoisstate, prestonboard, etc. While most of the information was focused on their origin nothing specific to the use/adoption of card stocks or cover stocks could be traced.

Further, we also searched for the types of card stock to derive historical insights on those types across paper blogs such as bizfluent, popularmechanics, landscapingengon, historyofpaper, etc. We found a few relevant insights which has been included in this brief.

Following this, we discovered the key players of card stock manufacturers on Alibaba, MPI Papers, Indiamart, Neenah Paper, LCI Paper, etc. to find their origin. The idea here was to find the origin of the companies and further discover a few leads to find the history behind card stocks. However, we did not find anything relevant.

As our last resort, we tried to find the history/evolution of paper with a motto to capture insights relevant to the evolution of card stocks/paste boards on, Strathmore Artist Papers, Historyofinformation, and Silk Road Foundation. But, the information focused only on paper boards.
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Card Stock vs. Cover Stock: Applications

The terms card stock and cover stock are often used interchangeably. The main difference is the appearance, with cover stock often being coated or textured, while card stock is often smoother and more generic in appearance. When considering the purpose or application of each product, based on weight and caliper, they are essentially the same. The primary difference is the appearance that is sought for the finished product.

General Overview

  • The three primary measurements for determining thickness and weight are metric weight or M weight (G/m2), calipers (points or mils), and basis weight (pounds).
  • Basis weight is the weight per 500 sheets of card stock.
  • Caliper is the thickness of the paper.
  • Another important consideration is the cut size. The cut size is the size of the paper before it is cut down.
  • The cut size depends on the type of paper, book, bond, bristol, cover, index, text, or writing.

How are Card Stock and Cover Stock Different

  • Card stock is not as thick and is more flexible than cardboard, but thicker and more durable than regular printer paper. It is smooth and generic in appearance.
  • Typically, card stock is sold based on caliper and basis weight.
  • Cover stock is similar to card stock but is often coated or textured. Usually, it is measured by thickness. It is often a decorative heavy-weight paper.

Card Stock Purpose/Applications

  • The purposes of 65lb card stock are light-weight business cards, greeting cards, postcards, book covers, posters, tickets, and crafts.
  • 80lb card stock is predominantly used for standard weight business cards, posters, greeting cards, invitations, table tents, folders, tickets, and crafts.
  • The applications for 100lb card stock include business cards, flat cards, invitations, posters, folders, tickets, crafts, gift tags, and greeting cards.
  • The purposes of the 10pt caliper are business cards, brochures, trade show material, media kits, menus, calendars, event programs, look books, crafts, certificates, awards, and report covers.
  • 12pt caliper is predominantly used for business cards, postcards, gift tags, pocket folders, report covers, marketing campaigns, media kits, presentations, and crafts.

Cover Stock Purpose/Applications

  • The purpose and application based on weight and caliper are similar to card stock. The primary consideration is the appearance of the finished product.
  • The uses of cover stock are often not specific to weight. To a large degree, it depends on the type of cover stock you need to achieve your purpose.
  • The most common purposes or applications for cover stock include client projects, promotional material, prints, booklets, handouts invitations, artisanal use, scrap booking, card making, cutouts, gift tags, and decorations.
  • If the planned application of cover stock is embossing, 80lb weight is recommended. Anything thicker and the risk is it will not probably emboss.
  • When using cover stock for art or decorating, it is important to realize, if the cover stock is too thin, it may pucker or the glue may show through.
  • If you use thicker cover stock, it can be prone to cracking when folded or cut.
  • Another important consideration when deciding what cover stock to use is that thicker sheets do not bend well, so that may impact on the printing process.

Research Strategy

We searched a range of industry publications, articles, and blogs to determine the difference between card stock and cover stock. By searching these sources, we were able to determine the purposes, uses, and applications for each product based on weight and thickness. Essentially the purpose and applications by weight and thickness are the same for both products. The primary difference is the appearance that the consumer is seeking for the final product.