Even though paper is commonplace in U.S. offices, the world of paper is surprisingly complex. For starters, there's a huge range of paper weights to choose from, and the systems by which paper weights are determined are anything but straightforward. And then there's the topic of paper quantities. From figuring out how many reams of paper are in a case to knowing what a quire, bundle, or bale is, paper only continues to feel more complicated. So let's break it down.
The Most Common Paper Quantities
Bale (equivalent to a case)
As you can see, paper quantities are typically defined as quires, reams, bundles, bales, or pallets. The average consumer is most likely to purchase paper in quires or reams, while commercial sales are more likely to consist of bundles, bales, or pallets. Let's take a closer look at each of these measurements.
Quire of Paper
A quire of writing paper typically includes 25 sheets of the same type and size of paper. Occasionally quires will include fewer than 25 sheets; for example, certain types of paper may call for quires of 15, 18, 20, or 24 sheets. Because quires represent one of the smallest paper quantities, they tend to be more expensive than reams, bundles, bales, and pallets.
Ream of Paper
More people are familiar with the term “ream” than with any other paper quantity designation, and yet the average person on the street probably couldn't identify how many reams are in a case of paper. So let's clear it up once and for all.
How Many Reams of Paper in a Case?
There are typically 10 reams in a copier paper case. One ream of writing paper typically consists of 500 sheets, but some reams of specialty papers include more or less than 500 sheets. For example, reams of cover and index paper are more likely to consist of 250 sheets than 500; blotting paper, handmade paper, and tissue paper are often sold in reams of 480 sheets; and poster-size paper is typically sold in reams of 516 sheets.
No matter the type of paper, purchasing reams tends to be more cost effective than buying paper by the case. For example, at Quill we offer reams in a variety of paper types, from standard copy paper to recycled options, for less than $8 per ream.
The modern standard for a bundle of writing paper is 1,000 sheets. These 1,000 sheets can be made up of either 40 quires or two reams. As with quires and reams, these measurements do occasionally vary depending on the type of paper. (For example, poster-size paper may sell in bundles of 1,032 sheets.) As a general rule, purchasing paper in bundles is even more cost-effective than purchasing it in quires or reams. Are you starting to detect a pattern here? Purchasing paper in bulk is a great option for price-conscious offices.
Bale of Paper
The modern standard for a bale of writing paper is 5,000 sheets. Bales can be comprised of 200 quires, 10 reams, or five bundles. Just like quires, reams, and bundles, this measurement sometimes differs for distinct paper types or sizes. (For example, a bale of poster-size paper is typically 5,160 sheets.) When you purchase paper in bulk by the bale, you can enjoy significant savings. At Quill, we offer cases in a variety of paper types for less than $50.
Pallet of Paper
Most pallets of paper in the U.S. consist of 40 cases, each of which is filled with 10 reams. That means a pallet contains 400 reams or 200,000 sheets of paper. While not all businesses have the storage capacity to house a pallet (or more) of paper, this is an incredibly cost-effective option for those that do. For example, a pallet of Quill brand paper clocks in at less than $1,500.
So there you have it: The next time somebody in the office inquires about how many reams of paper are in a case (or a bundle, bale, or pallet), you'll be empowered to let them know.
Laura Newcomer is a writer, editor, and educator with multiple years of experience working in the environmental and personal wellness space. Her writing has been published on Washington Post, TIME Healthland, Greatist, DailyBurn, Lifehacker, and Business Insider, among others.