Last updated
Rolls of newsprint. Rolls of finished newsprint at Macmillan-Bloedel Ltd in the Fraser River Valley, British Columbia, Canada.JPG
Rolls of newsprint.

Newsprint is a low-cost, non-archival paper consisting mainly of wood pulp and most commonly used to print newspapers and other publications and advertising material. Invented in 1844 by Charles Fenerty of Nova Scotia, Canada, it usually has an off white cast and distinctive feel. It is designed for use in printing presses that employ a long web of paper (web offset, letterpress and flexographic), rather than individual sheets of paper.


Newsprint is favored by publishers and printers as it is relatively low cost (compared with paper grades used for glossy magazines and sales brochures), strong (to run through modern high-speed web printing presses) and can accept four-color printing at qualities that meet the needs of typical newspapers.


Charles Fenerty began experimenting with wood pulp around 1838, making his discovery in 1844. On October 26, 1844, Fenerty took a sample of his paper to Halifax's top newspaper, the Acadian Recorder , where he had written a letter on his newly invented paper saying:

Messrs. English & Blackadar,

Enclosed is a small piece of PAPER, the result of an experiment I have made, in order to ascertain if that useful article might not be manufactured from WOOD. The result has proved that opinion to be correct, for—by the sample which I have sent you, Gentlemen—you will perceive the feasibility of it. The enclosed, which is as firm in its texture as white, and to all appearance as durable as the common wrapping paper made from hemp, Cotton, or the ordinary materials of manufacture is actually composed of spruce wood, reduced to a pulp, and subjected to the same treatment as paper is in course of being made, only with this exception, viz: my insufficient means of giving it the required pressure. I entertain an opinion that our common forest trees, either hard or soft wood, but more especially the fir, spruce, or poplar, on account of the fibrous quality of their wood, might easily be reduced by a chafing machine, and manufactured into paper of the finest kind. This opinion, Sirs, I think the experiment will justify, and leaving it to be prosecuted further by the scientific, or the curious. I remain, Gentlemen, your obdt. servant,


The Acadian Recorder
Halifax, N.S.

Saturday, October 26, 1844 [1]


The web of paper is placed on the printer, in the form of a roll of paper, from a paper mill (surplus newsprint can also be cut into individual sheets by a processor for use in a variety of other applications such as wrapping or commercial printing). World demand of newsprint in 2006 totaled about 37.2 million metric tonnes, according to the Montreal-based Pulp & Paper Products Council (PPPC). This was about 1.6% less than in 2000. Between 2000 and 2006, the biggest changes were in Asia—which saw newsprint demand grow by about 20%—and North America, where demand fell by about 25%. Demand in China virtually doubled during the period, to about 3.2 million metric tonnes.

About 35% of global newsprint usage in 2006 was in Asia, with approximately 26% being in North America and about 25% in Western Europe. Latin America and Eastern Europe each represented about 5% of world demand in 2006, according to PPPC, with smaller shares going to Oceania and Africa.

Among the biggest factors depressing demand for newsprint in North America have been the decline in newspaper readership among many sectors of the population—particularly young adults—along with increasing competition for advertising business from the Internet and other media. According to the Newspaper Association of America, a United States newspaper trade group, average U.S. daily circulation in 2006 on a typical weekday was 52.3 million (53.2 million on Sundays), compared with 62.5 million in 1986 (58.9 million on Sundays) and 57.0 million in 1996 (60.8 million on Sundays). According to NAA, daily ad revenues (not adjusted for inflation) reached their all-time peak in 2000, and by 2007 had fallen by 13%. Newsprint demand has also been affected by attempts on the part of newspaper publishers to reduce marginal printing costs through various conservation measures intended to cut newsprint usage.

While demand has been trending down in North America in recent years, the rapid economic expansion of such Asian countries as China and India greatly benefited the print newspaper, and thus their newsprint suppliers. According to the World Association of Newspapers, in 2007 Asia was the home to 74 of the world's 100 highest-circulation dailies. With millions of Chinese and Indians entering the ranks of those with disposable income, newspapers have gained readers along with other news media.

Newsprint is used worldwide in the printing of newspapers, flyers, and other printed material intended for mass distribution. In the U.S., about 80% of all newsprint that is consumed is purchased by daily newspaper publishers, according to PPPC. Dailies use a large majority of total demand in most other regions as well.

Typically in North America, newsprint is purchased by a daily newspaper publisher and is shipped from the mill to the publisher's pressroom or pressrooms, where it is used to print the main body of the newspaper (called the run-of-press, or ROP, sections). The daily newspaper publisher may also be hired by outside companies such as advertisers or publishers of weekly newspapers or other daily newspapers to produce printed products for those companies using its presses. In such cases the press owner might also purchase newsprint from the mill for such contract printing jobs.

For the roughly 20% of demand which is not purchased by a daily newspaper, common end uses include the printing of weekly newspapers, advertising flyers and other printed products, generally by a commercial printer, a company whose business consists largely of printing products for other companies using its presses. In such a case, the newsprint may be purchased by the printer on behalf of an advertiser or a weekly newspaper publisher, or it may be purchased by the client and then ordered to be shipped to the printer's location.

Economic issues

The biggest inputs to the newsprint manufacturing process are energy, fiber, and labor. Mill operating margins have been significantly affected in the 2006–2008 time-frame by rising energy costs. Many mills' fiber costs have also been affected during the U.S. housing market slowdown of 2007–8 by the shutdown of many sawmills, particularly in Canada, since the virgin fiber used by mills generally comes from nearby sawmills in the form of wood chips produced as a residual product of the saw milling process.


Another consideration in the newsprint business is delivery, which is affected by energy cost trends. Newsprint around the world may be delivered by rail or truck; or by barge, container or break-bulk shipment if a water delivery is appropriate. (Aside from delivery cost, another consideration in selecting freight mode may be the potential for avoiding damage to the product.) All things being equal, for domestic shipments in areas like North America or Europe where modern road and rail networks are readily available, trucks can be more economical than rail for short-haul deliveries (a day or less from the mill), while rail may be more economical for longer shipments. The cost-competitiveness of each freight mode for a specific mill's business may depend on local infrastructure issues, as well as the degree of truck-vs-freight competition in the mill's region. The appropriate freight mode for delivery from a mill to a specific pressroom can also depend on the press room ability to accept enough trucks or rail cars.

Web (width) downsizing

A newspaper roll's width is called its web width and is defined by how many front pages it can print. A full roll prints four front pages with four back pages behind it (two front and back on each of the two sections). Modern printing facilities most efficiently print newspapers in multiples of eight pages on a full newsprint roll in two sections of four pages each. The two sections are then cut in half.

Faced with dwindling revenue from competition with broadcast, cable, and internet outlets, U.S. newspapers in the 21st century—particularly broadsheets—have begun to reduce the width of their newsprint rolls, and hence of the newspapers, to a standard size across the business.

The longtime standard 54-inch web (13½ inch front page) (metric: 137.16 cm web, 34.29 cm front page) has given way to smaller newspaper sizes. New broadsheet standards in the U.S. are 44, 46, and 48-inch webs (11, 11.5, and 12 inch newspaper page widths, respectively) (metric: 111.76 cm, 116.84 cm, 121.92 cm, page widths: 27.94 cm, 29.21 cm, 30.48 cm respectively). Newspapers such as USA Today have already converted to new, narrower web width standards, which are also easier for readers to handle, especially commuters. Interest in the reduced standard increased when The Wall Street Journal abandoned its iconic 60-inch web (15 inch page) format (metric: 152.4 cm, 38.1 cm page) in favor of the new 48-inch newspaper industry standard starting on January 2, 2007. [2] The New York Times has followed suit, abandoning its 54-inch web (13½ inch page) on August 6, 2007. [3]

In February 2009, The Seattle Times moved from a 50-inch web to a 46-inch web, producing an 11½ inch page width (metric: was 127 cm, became 116.84 cm, page 29.21 cm).

Newspapers in many other parts of the world, including The Times , The Guardian , [4] and The Independent in the United Kingdom, are also downsizing their broadsheets.


Newsprint is generally made by a mechanical milling process, without the chemical processes that are often used to remove lignin from the pulp. The lignin causes the paper to become brittle and yellow when exposed to air or sunlight. Traditionally, newsprint was made from fibers extracted from various softwood species of trees (most commonly, spruce, fir, balsam fir or pine). However, an increasing percentage of the world's newsprint is made with recycled fibers.


There are upper limits on the percentage of the world's newsprint that can be manufactured from recycled fiber. For instance, some of the fiber that enters a recycled pulp mill is lost in pulping, due to inefficiencies inherent in the process. According to the web site of the U.K. chapter of Friends of the Earth, [5] wood fiber can normally only be recycled up to five times due to damage to the fiber. Thus, unless the quantity of newsprint used each year worldwide declines in line with the lost fiber, a certain amount of new (virgin) fiber is required each year globally, even though individual newsprint mills may use 100% recycled fiber. Many mills mix fresh fibers along with recycled fibers to promote sustainability.

See also

Related Research Articles

Papermaking Economic sector

Papermaking is the manufacture of paper and cardboard, which are used widely for printing, writing, and packaging, among many other purposes. Today almost all paper is made using industrial machinery, while handmade paper survives as a specialized craft and a medium for artistic expression.

Pulp (paper) Fibrous material used notably in papermaking

Pulp is a lignocellulosic fibrous material prepared by chemically or mechanically separating cellulose fibers from wood, fiber crops, waste paper, or rags. Mixed with water and other chemical or plant-based additives, pulp is the major raw material used in papermaking and the industrial production of other paper products.

Paperboard Thick paper-based material

Paperboard is a thick paper-based material. While there is no rigid differentiation between paper and paperboard, paperboard is generally thicker than paper and has certain superior attributes such as foldability and rigidity. According to ISO standards, paperboard is a paper with a grammage above 250 g/m2, but there are exceptions. Paperboard can be single- or multi-ply.

Lines per inch (LPI) is a measurement of printing resolution. A line consists of halftones that is built up by physical ink dots made by the printer device to create different tones. Specifically LPI is a measure of how close together the lines in a halftone grid are. The quality of printer device or screen determines how high the LPI will be. High LPI indicates greater detail and sharpness.

Paper recycling Process by which waste paper is turned into new paper products

The recycling of paper is the process by which waste paper is turned into new paper products. It has a number of important benefits: It saves waste paper from occupying homes of people and producing methane as it breaks down. Because paper fibre contains carbon, recycling keeps the carbon locked up for longer and out of the atmosphere. Around two-thirds of all paper products in the US are now recovered and recycled, although it does not all become new paper. After repeated processing the fibres become too short for the production of new paper - this is why virgin fibre is frequently added to the pulp recipe.

Charles Fenerty Canadian inventory and poet (1821–1892)

Charles Fenerty, was a Canadian inventor who invented the wood pulp process for papermaking, which was first adapted into the production of newsprint. Fenerty was also a poet.

Catalyst Paper

Catalyst Paper Corporation is a pulp and paper company based in Richmond, British Columbia. It operates five pulp mills and paper mills, producing a combined 1.8 million tonnes of paper and 491,000 tonnes of market pulp annually. The mills mostly produce magazine paper and newsprint.

Norske Skog Skogn AS is a pulp mill and paper mill situated in Levanger, Norway, which produces newsprint. Situated on the Fiborgtangen peninsula in Skogn, the mill has three paper machines with a total annual capacity of 600,000 tonnes. Pulp is produced both from virgin fibers at an on-site thermomechanical pulp (TMP) mill and from recycled paper at a deinking (DIP) mill. Part of Norske Skog, it is the sole remaining newsprint mill in Norway.


Parenco B.V. is a paper mill located in Renkum, Netherlands, on the shore of the Rhine. The mill was established on the site of an older mill in 1912 by Van Gelder & Zonen. The company operates two paper machines PM1 and PM2. PM1 has a capacity of 265,000 tonnes per year and is used for the production of so-called SC-B paper for magazines and advertising brochures. The other machine, PM2, was idled in 2009 by its then owner due to the declining demand of newsprint paper. This machine will be converted and from mid-2016 will produce about 385,000 tons of packaging paper, intended for the production of corrugated board.

Grammage and basis weight, in the pulp and paper industry, are the area density of a paper product, that is, its mass per unit of area. Two ways of expressing grammage are commonly used:

The sulfite process produces wood pulp that is almost pure cellulose fibers by treating wood chips with solutions of sulfite and bisulfite ions. These chemicals cleave the bonds between the cellulose and lignin components of the lignocellulose. A variety of sulfite/bisulfite salts are used, including sodium (Na+), calcium (Ca2+), potassium (K+), magnesium (Mg2+), and ammonium (NH4+). The lignin is converted to lignosulfonates, which are soluble and can be separated from the cellulose fibers. For the production of cellulose, the sulfite process competes with the Kraft process; it produces stronger fibers and is less environmentally costly.

Paper Thin material for writing, printing, etc.

Paper is a thin sheet material produced by mechanically or chemically processing cellulose fibres derived from wood, rags, grasses or other vegetable sources in water, draining the water through fine mesh leaving the fibre evenly distributed on the surface, followed by pressing and drying. Although paper was originally made in single sheets by hand, almost all is now made on large machines—some making reels 10 metres wide, running at 2,000 metres per minute and up to 600,000 tonnes a year. It is a versatile material with many uses, including printing, packaging, decorating, writing, cleaning, filter paper, wallpaper, book endpaper, conservation paper, laminated worktops, toilet tissue, currency and security paper and a number of industrial and construction processes.

Deinking is the industrial process of removing printing ink from paperfibers of recycled paper to make deinked pulp.

Great Lakes Paper

The Great Lakes Paper Company was the operator of the largest and most modern pulp and paper manufacturing facility in the world. The Company employed over 4,000 in Northern Ontario, starting in 1924 as a pulp mill at Fort William, Ontario. Great Lakes had a highly developed social network within the company, including a children's Christmas party held at a local arena, and an annual picnic held at a local park, as well as many sports teams and other social groups. The company's working environment was enhanced by cultural diversity. For example under the Government of Canada's immigration policy, the "Close Relatives Scheme" resulted in over 400 Ukrainian refugees being employed as workers after World War II.

Friedrich Gottlob Keller

Friedrich Gottlob Keller was a German machinist and inventor, who invented the wood pulp process for use in papermaking. He is widely known for his wood-cut machine. Unlike Charles Fenerty, F.G. Keller took out a patent for his wood-cut invention.

Environmental effects of paper Overview about the environmental effects of the paper production industry

The environmental effects of paper are significant, which has led to changes in industry and behaviour at both business and personal levels. With the use of modern technology such as the printing press and the highly mechanized harvesting of wood, disposable paper became a relatively cheap commodity, which led to a high level of consumption and waste. The rise in global environmental issues such as air and water pollution, climate change, overflowing landfills and clearcutting have all lead to increased government regulations. There is now a trend towards sustainability in the pulp and paper industry as it moves to reduce clear cutting, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption and clean up its influence on local water supplies and air pollution.

The history of papermaking in New York had its beginnings in the late 18th century, at a time when linen and cotton rags were the primary source of fibers in the manufacturing process. By 1850 there were more than 106 paper mills in New York, more than in any other state. A landmark in the history of papermaking in the United States was the installation of the first Fourdrinier machine in the country at a mill in Saugerties, New York, in 1827. Papermaking from ground-wood pulp began in New York in 1869, with the establishment of the Hudson River Pulp & Paper Company in Corinth and also with the work of Illustrious Remington and his sons in Watertown. The innovation and success of the Remingtons spurred further development of the industry in the state.

Snowflake Mill was a pulp mill and paper mill located in the US town of Snowflake, Arizona. The mill had two paper machines which produced 339,000 tonnes of newsprint and uncoated fine paper. It sourced its fiber from two deinking pulp lines. The mill had 293 employees as of 2014. Transport to and from the mill was carried out on the Apache Railway.

Khanna Paper Mills (KPM) is an Amritsar, India based business, which manufactures and supplies writing and printing papers, news print papers, and paperboards., and is the largest single location plant in the country using paper waste. It is the first paper mill in India to produce writing and printing paper from 100 per cent de-inked pulp. The manufactured paper products are exported to SAARC countries, Africa, and the Middle East through a network of dealers.

Mechanical pulping is the process in which wood is separated or defibrated mechanically into pulp for the paper industry.


  1. Burger, Peter. Charles Fenerty and his Paper Invention. Toronto: Peter Burger, 2007. ISBN   978-0-9783318-1-8 pp.32 (The biography has a photo of the original letter.)
  2. Seelye, Katharine Q. (2006-12-04). "In Tough Times, a Redesigned Journal". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  3. "The New York Times Plans to Consolidate New York Print Run at Newest Facility in College Point, Queens and Sublease Older Edison, New Jersey, Printing Plant in Early 2008" (Press release). The New York Times Company. 2006-07-18. Archived from the original on 2013-04-13. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  4. Cozens, Claire (1 September 2005). "New-look Guardian launches on September 12". MediaGuardian. London: Guardian News and Media.
  5. Friends of the Earth