Paper/Temperature Acclimation

I’ve heard it’s a good idea to let newly purchased paper sit for awhile in the studio to acclimate before it’s used for printing. Do most of you do this and if so, how long is the “wait period” ideally?

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Like a goldfish put in a new tank, paper needs time to adjust to perform well.
I’ve heard folks using dehumidifiers, humidifiers, humidors, refrigerators, portable eskimo coolers, root cellars, plastic sheeting and over sized tupperware containers. These seem like nonsense to me and I have tried none of these methods.
I enjoy putting paper between cork sheeting for a fortnight, and then storing the pulpy product in an airtight, vacuumed sealed room which creates an environment close to space, minus the radiation (which I heard is very bad for paper).
I only handle my good paper with white deerskin gloves for non-slipping and also for their anti-static properties.
All of precautions should give you an excellent paper for printing on, or for doing anything with for that matter.

Well, I’m not sure I remember exactly, but I think the idea is to let the paper come up to shop temperature from warehouse temperature before unwrapping it. The reason is that paper absorbs humidity differently at different temperatures. I’ve forgotten what other considerations are involved, because in practice, it hardly seems to matter, at least here in Portland, Oregon. Perhaps in hotter, drier, or wetter climates, or with certain types of paper, or jobs requiring tight register, on long runs over several days, it might make an important difference.


In my days as a letterpress printer, paper was printed in a machine room not a studio!
It’s a complete myth about acclimatising paper.
How can you modify the centre of a ream of paper, even if it was unwrapped?
To acclimatise you would need to hang every single sheet in the machine room for 24 hrs at least; and obviously when your talking of 1000s of sheets this is impossible.
Sure the paper may stretch or shrink depending on the conditions, and pose problems re accurate register of a subsequent colour forme.
Why do you think Litho Offset superseded letterpress?
It overcame these difficulties by producing multi colour print in a single pass through the machine.
If you are doing STUDIO print then I should say you are worrying unnecessarily.

Paper acclimation is mainly a concern for rag papers, which can shrink or expand by as much as an eighth of an inch. So it can become a concern if you do a lot of spot color with tight registration.

If you have a drying rack, you can ‘season’ your paper by laying it out individually. Is this worth the trouble? Probably not for most people. It’s going to depend on the job.

Remember too that by the same token, if you acclimatize your stock and begin printing, you should try to finish the job ASAP because if the humidity changes, your paper will change as well… again!

We deal with this a lot more at our shop when we’re screenprinting 10-12 screens on 100% rag paper, but the ink there is water-based and can warp the paper’s fibers.

Paper stored in a cool warehouse or just coming off a cold trailer truck will feed better on automatic feeders if they’re allowed to come up to room temperature first, usually over night in the press room. The colder the paper and the warmer the pressroom the greater the chance for static in the sheets as they are fed causing misfeeds.


Whoa, Devils Tail — that’s some story about the Japanese paper. I’m just about to start a close registration project on Japanese paper — it’s called “sekishu.” Do you suppose I should just print dry? I haven’t used this paper before and was going to do some experimenting before I started, but maybe I should just skip the dampening part? Then again, maybe I should dampen it because any further dampening via storm fronts wouldn’t expand it as much as it would dry paper?

Printmaster, where do you get your white deerskin gloves? The ones I’ve been using have gotten quite worn over the years and need to be replaced. They were made from pelts of the Snowy Tibetan Hart, but this has now been declared sacred by the local monks.


sylvia c

I have seen this recommendation from paper manufacturer’s. I have a slip from Curtis Paper Mills concerning their Curtis Flannel paper that suggests acclimation. Neither the paper nor the manufacturer are around any more (great paper/s though). Not sure how specific this might be to the plant material used in the paper but a bookbinder acquaintance had the Flannel lab tested and it turned out to be tobacco leaf. A very printable paper and highly regarded in its day. I still have treasured stock.


Thank you all for your comments on this topic. I have a project coming up with 3 colors all in tight registration, and will be using Crane’s 110# Lettra, which I just ordered and received two days ago. As I live in an area with very high humidity, I am concerned about the possibility that the paper could contract/expand minutely. Due to time constraints (aka day job realities) the printed sheets will have to wait 2-3 days between color runs. While I’m always willing to experiment in general, I do hate to waste large amounts of paper.

sylvia c

Unless you are printing full sized parent sheets (22x30 or larger) you will not have any problems with your paper. Just make sure you have accurate register on your first pass.



If you really want to get information on this subject, plus much more useful information regarding paper, The Graphic Arts Technical Foundation published a book called “What the Printer Should Know About Paper.” I just checked on the used book website and they have multiple copies starting at $1.00

You could also get a new copy of this book from Printing Industries of America for the non-member price of $99.00