AbstractDifferent modification routes using fly ash-based calcium silicate (FACS) with starch/sodium stearate were explored to mitigate the negative effect of filler on paper strength and allow for improved filler content. The morphology of the modified fillers and the properties of the filled paper were investigated. The modification route was found to be critical to the amount of starch/sodium stearate deposited on the surface of the filler particles. The most suitable modification route using FACS filler was as follows: starch (20% dosage on o.d. filler) was cooked, filler was added, and then sodium stearate was added (4% dosage on o.d. filler). The tensile index of the FACS-filled paper could be increased by 22% at 30% filler content under the best modification route. The brightness and bulk of the filled paper were also improved. However, the opacity of the filled paper was slightly decreased due to the deposition of starch/sodium stearate on the porous surface of the filler particles.