The Big Three for Describing White Paper

Whiteness-brightness-shadeWhiteness – Brightness – Shade.

There are three characteristics by which white paper color is commonly described: whiteness, brightness and shade.


This measurement better correlates with your visual perception of the paper. Very high whiteness is likely to indicate a blue white sheet, while a warmer white is more like a creamier white sheet.


Brightness is a measurement, on a scale of zero to 100, of the amount of light reflected from the surface of a paper.


Shade is an important characteristic within the definition of a paper’s whiteness. It can directly impact the look and feel of the printed images. If you are buying papers for color printing, make sure you are taking shade and whiteness into consideration. With the color printing process the interaction between the inks or toners with the shade of the paper will determine whether the images on the page appear as one would expect, such as skin tones looking natural, food looking real, and so on.

It Starts With Whitening the Pulp

Untreated wood pulp has a brown or brownish color and has to be bleached before it can be used to make white papers. Pulp can be bleached with chlorine or chlorine compounds, as well as with oxygen or hydrogen peroxide. Chlorine-based processes have fallen out of favor because of their environmental impact. Consequently, elemental- and totally-chlorine free processes are now more frequently used.