# How much do several pieces of parchment or paper weigh?

Okay, similar question to my previous one. The equipment and weight table in adventuring gear says:

Item Cost Weight
Paper(one sheet) 2 sp -
Parchment(one sheet) 1 sp -

It has nothing about multiple sheets of parchment or paper. How much do several sheets of parchment or paper weigh? Assuming others might ask whether how many sheets that is, assume at least 5.

## Single Pages are Negligible

A single page of paper or parchment has a weight way below what is considered for encumbrance rules. As such, you don't keep track of it.

If you must: standard printer paper has about 80g/m², or about 5 grams for a page of Din A4 or Letter sized paper (~1/16th m²). That's roughly 0.17 ounces per page or 6 pages per ounce.

Vellum-paper goes up to 150 g/m², so weighs about 10 grams per sheet, or 0.35 ounces per sheet. Real vellum is a little thicker. That is about 3 sheets per ounce.

Either is negligible, and common sense would tell so too.

You can even extrapolate from other items that consist of paper: Books are about 2 lbs per volume (instructional literature) and require 42 days to study. Those are most likely about 100 pages, like spellbooks, and thus come down to 10 grams/0.35 ounces a page - or 3 sheets per ounce. Spellbooks weigh 3 lbs for 100 pages, resulting in about 14 grams or 0.5 ounces per page. Both estimates ignore that the covers of properly bound books make up a considerable amount of the book's weight, so I would expect between 2 and 6 pages of roughly A4/Letter-size per ounce, depending on the thickness of the pages.

## If this is relevant the GM has to decide

The book says that a sheet of paper weighs nothing because the weight is not relevant for encumbrance unless a large number of sheets is transported. If a question is not handled by the rulebook the GM is asked to make a ruling. The reasoning can consider different points including play experience and realism. In case a group tracks encumbrance which is uncommon in my experience and the players transport a significant amount of paper the GM can simply assign a weight.

## What I would rule

I would just google paper weight and make something approximate, e.g. 1 lb. for 100 sheets. I googled printer paper. Parchment and thicker kinds of paper weigh more. Apparently, you need to double or triple the weight for vellum. In case of a low number, such as five, I would still ignore the weight.

• do you mean dm? Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 18:31
• GM is a more general term meaning Gamemaster. In D&D they are typically called Dungeonmaster or DM. Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 18:32

# Does it actually matter?

This is the question you should always be asking when something like this comes up. If it’s not directly relevant to the story, and the players are not trying to do something silly like carry around hundreds of sheets of paper, then it simply does not matter, and thus you shouldn’t waste time worrying about it.

For reference, when I run games, the usual turn-around point where I start worrying about weight of items with no listed weight is when a player is carrying around a stack of more than 10 of that item.

# But really, the actual numbers...

The weight of papers, parchments, and vellums is typically measured using what is known as ‘grammage’, which is the mass of the paper per unit area, typically expressed as grams per square meter (typically abbreviated as ‘gsm’ in English-speaking parts of the world, though the correct SI unit is g/m²).

#### For parchment

Most parchment has a grammage of about 140-160 g/m². We’ll assume 150 g/m².

At 150 g/m², an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of parchment would be just a hair over 9 grams, or approximately 0.32 ounces, which is roughly 50 sheets to a pound.

A metric A4 sheet is close enough to this to not matter.

In practice, the sheets of parchment are probably not 8.5 by 11 inches (or A4), as this is more just a modern standard than some practical requirement.

#### For paper

Modern ‘office’ paper has a grammage of about 80 g/m², but is lighter than what is likely available in most fantasy settings, so we’ll assume about 100 g/m² below.

At 100 g/m², an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of paper would be just a tiny bit over 6 grams, or approximately 0.2 ounces, which is roughly 80 sheets to a pound.

Just like with parchment, an A4 sheet would be close enough to not matter, and the sheet size is probably not 8.5 by 11 or A4.