AbstractSmoothness of paper surface is an important property from its printability. A number of techniques are available for characterizing the topographical features of the paper surface. These techniques have led to the development of smoothness testers of various types such as air-leak testers, optical contact testers, surface profilers, and a number of ink and liquid application apparatus to assess the smoothness. While all these methods are intended to serve the same purpose, they differ so greatly in their basic approach that the agreement between them cannot be taken for granted. In the present work, these methods have been applied to characterize the surface of handsheets of mechanical pulps. A comparison of these methods reveals that different methods grade these pulps differently, confirming the multidimensional nature of the surface structure and the fact that no single method is sufficient to describe it completely.