What is Newsprint?

A Kaminsky

Newsprint refers to the specific type of paper used to publish newspapers. It is thin enough to be economically produced, but thick enough to be printed on both sides. It is a relatively cheap grade of paper, but one whose production is reasonably environmentally sound.

A roll of newsprint is generally 1 meter tall, weighing between 800-900 pounds.
A roll of newsprint is generally 1 meter tall, weighing between 800-900 pounds.

Mills throughout the world produce newsprint, using very much the same process everywhere. Before recycling was widely practiced, newspaper was made mostly of wood pulp. Innovative minds created ways for paper mills to make it using recycled newspapers and even residual chips, dust, and pieces from local sawmills, however. Many mills also recycle their water, which makes them less of a burden on the environment. The pressroom usually has several dozen feet of paper left over after a press run, and selling it to people who buy "endrolls" of it from the local newspaper office is another way to reduce waste.

Newsprint is the paper used to publish newspapers.
Newsprint is the paper used to publish newspapers.

A roll of newsprint is about 3.3 feet (1 meter) tall and weighs anywhere between 800 and 900 pounds (300-400 kg). A roll averages about 35,800 linear feet (10,912 meters) of paper, and it is priced by the ton. The paper, wound around sturdy cardboard cylinders, is carried into the pressroom with a front-end loader. A metal rod is pushed through the hole in the middle of the cylinder, with both ends sticking out. A winch lifts the huge rolls into position on the press, and the ends are threaded through the rollers.

Often considered a famous liner for birdcages, newsprint has a variety of uses other than for printing the news. It is good for picnic table covers, a variety of crafts, kids' drawing or painting paper, packing material, wrapping paper, and a host of other uses.

Because it is of a lower quality than most book paper, this material has some disadvantages. It is fragile and discolors easily. The paper does not preserve well, and so is not suitable for long-term archives. It is also easily torn, and when wet, tends to dissolve back into pulp.

Depending on the press a newspaper has, it may also suffer from "web breaks" — two words that strike fear into the hearts of every newspaper company. The paper is often suspended between rollers, and the suspended portion is the web. If the web breaks, the press must be stopped, the torn edges found, trimmed, and pasted back together, and then the press must be restarted. In other words, the break eats up precious press time and delays the carriers from getting their papers delivered on time.

Most newspapers are printed on a thin paper known as newsprint.
Most newspapers are printed on a thin paper known as newsprint.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@orangey03 – I like to use newsprint as gift packaging. That way, I can design my own wrapping paper.

I usually use two layers of newsprint when wrapping a gift. I don't want to risk tearing it and having the gift show through.

I decorate it with markers. Paint might bleed through, but markers are safe when there are two layers of newsprint. Metallic markers add extra sparkle and sheen to the design.


I work at a newspaper, and there are several end rolls on display in the front window of the building. The shorter ones with less newsprint are cheaper than the bigger ones, but all are reasonably priced.

Some are $5, some $10, and some $25. I don't think that we sell any over $25.

It's a great way for the paper to make a little extra money. Times are hard for newspapers, so anything we can do to earn a bit of cash is helpful.


Newsprint is good for packaging items for shipping. You can crumple it up and stuff the empty space in the box with it. It makes a cheap filler.

I also used a big roll of newsprint when my dog had puppies. I kept them in an enclosed area of the carport, which I had lined with newsprint. It made cleaning up after nine puppies with diarrhea very simple.

I sometimes used the newsprint to scrub the concrete with after lifting up the soiled piece. I would spray a nontoxic cleaner on it, and then I would crumple it up and rub the floor until the newsprint started to fall to pieces. It was much better than using a wash cloth and having to throw it away.


@SauteePan – My college art professor actually had newsprint paper rolls on the list of class supplies that we needed to buy. I found this strange, because I had never used it before, and it felt so thin.

My professor said that we would be using newsprint while learning how to draw with charcoal and conte crayons. We would likely go through many pieces of it before we were ready to use our newly learned technique on more expensive drawing paper.

I have to say that when I messed up on a sketch, it was so satisfying to crumple up that newsprint so easily in my hands. I didn't feel like I had wasted anything at all.


Anon82856 -I agree and I wanted to add that I usually buy a lot of newsprint paper pads from my art supply store because it is really inexpensive and my kids get hours of enjoyment drawing pictures on that paper. It is also thick enough so that it would tear easily.


as web articles go, this writer delivers that rare mix: the useful and the fanciful; a light touch, a speedy cadence, a pleasant, engaging piece. Underpaid, for sure, but very, very skilled. Thanks. I was looking to find how many running feet are on a typical newsprint roll, but in under a minute--got treated to the pretty snazzy precis. Very nice work.

Post your comments
Forgot password?