AbstractFor evaluation of changes in phenolic lignin units during kraft pulping and bleaching, a direct method based on UV reflectance measurements of pulp handsheets was tested. Similar trends in total phenolic hydroxyl-group contents were evident when UV reflectance results for isolated lignins and pulp sheets were compared. This direct method gave reliable results after alkaline cooking, oxygen delignification, and bleaching stages followed by alkaline extraction (DE, ZE). However, the phenolic content obtained after peroxide bleaching (QP) was over-estimated. This may be due to alkali-induced reactions during pH adjustment of the sheets for measurement concomitant with ionisation of the phenolic hydroxyl groups. Otherwise, this direct method based on UV reflectance measurements is a promising new approach for determining the total content of phenolic lignin units in pulp sheets without isolating the lignin.