Tuesday August 20, 2019


Pater talk


Why paper matters…

Choosing the best paper for your project starts with understanding why paper is so important. Your customers will compare the quality of your marketing with the quality of your products and/or services. Producing a high-quality print job suggests you have a high-quality business that offers high-quality products, services, and customer support.

 Imagine, if you will, receiving two postcards in the mail, each from competing businesses yet featuring similar offers and designs. The first company’s postcard is paper-thin and flimsy, the colors are dull, and the inks appear scuffed. The second company’s postcard is thick and substantial, the colors are bright, and the ink is unmarked.

Everything else being equal, which business would you buy from? Most people would choose the second company because they sent a superior postcard.


Paper Selection

Paper selection for your print job is an important part of the design process. There are many types of papers to choose from, we will discuss only few options that will make it easier to choose the best paper for your print project.


Paper samples


Uncoated Cover - This paper has no coating covering the fibers of the paper allowing the ink to soak into the sheet rather than sitting on top. Uncoated paper typically gives you a muted, less colorful print as the inks soak into the sheet. This type of paper works best for items that will be written on with pen or pencil. This type of paper also does not show fingerprints as some high gloss paper stocks will. This paper is also typically not perfectly smooth, having some light texture to it. Uncoated paper may be many thicknesses ranging from 20# bond through 24pt uncoated cover.


Coated Cover- This paper has a thin coating applied to it making the ink sit on top, which allows for very vibrant prints and great ink coverage. This paper is often referred to as C1S or C2S (coated 1 side/coated 2 sides). This paper type is then covered with an aqueous coating to seal the ink into the sheet while also giving a nice gloss appearance to it. This coating can be written on with a standard ink pen, but pencils don’t tend to write as well because of the slickness of the coating.  Coated cover stocks also come in many thicknesses ranging from about 10pt through 24pt.


An example below shows the same colors on 2 different stocks, one uncoated and one coated. The uncoated (right side) is muted due to the ink being soaked into the sheet. The left side has a coating that makes the paper appear glossy and smooth.




Paper finish refers to the texture of the papers surface. There are two main finishes typically used: Glossy & Matte. Glossy paper has been coated by a compound to give it a smooth, shiny appearance. Matte paper is also coated but without luster or gloss, giving it an untreated look.


Fine – This paper is used for letterheads and envelopes. It is uncoated and is easily printed using digital presses and traditional offset presses. For bonds, the most popular basis weights are 20# and 24#, for letterhead the most popular basis weight is 70#.

 Other paper types include clay coated newsback, clay coated kraftback and synthetics. All of these papers have their place in the print industry. Be sure to review your paper choice with your printer prior to design to be sure there are no issues with using that brand or style of paper.


Paper is sold by weight. The price of any paper is determined by the weight of one ream (500 sheets) when the paper is cut to the standard size for its type. The basis weight is how paper gets its name. A ream of bond that weighs 20 pounds in its basis size is called 20# bond. Also, a ream of bond that weighs 24 pounds in its basis size is called 24# bond. The basis weight is not the paper’s thickness.




Paper Type

Basis Size

Bond & Writing

17” x 22”


25” x 38”


20” x 26”

Vellum Bristol

22.5” x 28.5”


25.5” x 30.5”


24” x 36”


The weight (in pounds) of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to the basis size for a certain type of paper is the paper’s basis weight. For example, if the basis size of bond paper is 17 x 22 and 500 sheets weighs 24 pounds, then the basis weight is 24 pounds.


Thickness (Caliper) is measured in thousandths of an inch using a micrometer and may be expressed as points. For example, a 16pt card will measure 0.016” thick, a 14pt card is 0.014” thick, a 12pt card is 0.012” thick, etc. Although you can measure the paper thickness this way remember that paper is manufactured to weight not thickness and may have variations from different mill runs. 14pt stock from one mill may not be the same thickness as 14pt from another mill.




GSM (grams per square meter) is the metric system's measure for paper weight and can be converted into lb. and pt. For example, 148 GSM is 100# gloss text and 350 GSM is 14pt. cover.


When printing two sided on thinner stocks you can get ghosting where the image on the back side of the paper shows through the front. This generally happens when you have heavy coverage on one side and not the other. Be sure your stock is thick enough to handle the ink coverage for your design.


 Paper brightness, whiteness and shade can affect the color of your print. Brightness and whiteness are somewhat similar as they both use a scale of 0-100 but the values are not interchangeable. Brightness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 – the higher the number, the brighter the paper. Brightness measures the reflection of a specific wavelength of blue light to obtain this value. For example, a 95 bright paper reflects more light than an 85 bright paper, thus appearing brighter.


Using a specific blue light (wavelength of 457 nanometers) to measure the reflection ignores other longer wavelengths, such as green and red. Because of this, two types of paper with the same brightness can appear visually different, even though the “brightness” values are the same.



Nano chart


Whiteness measures the reflection of light across the entire visible spectrum. Thus, paper whiteness is more in line with a human’s visual perception of color. Whiteness, also using a scale of 0-100, will give us an appearance that a higher number is a whiter paper. While using the entire spectrum of visible light paper with a very high whiteness value can appear to have a blue tint under certain viewing conditions. Indoor lighting such as fluorescent and incandescent bulbs will change the way the papers appear and can vary based on the output of the light bulb. Specific viewing booths have lighting that simulates daytime lighting. Common light variables would be D50 and D65. D50 is a yellower (warmer) light with D65 being more bluish (cooler). Typically print viewing booths are D50.

Shade does not use any reflection values; it represents the color of the paper. There are three common groups of white shades:


White papers


• True White
• Blue White
• Cream White

Often the blue white shade is used for paper because it appears to be a “whiter” white than true white. These papers are often labeled “bright white” or “high white.” It has this tint because it reflects more blue light.

Cream white absorbs the blues that blue white reflects, and thus has a yellowish look.

True white reflects the entire color spectrum equally, which is the true definition of white.

Shade, whiteness and brightness choice is very important to your printing project. Personal preference will also play a part in your paper selection. You need to pay special attention when printing food products or faces as the shade, brightness and whiteness will greatly affect the colors when printing.


The best paper types for printing depend on your project

There are many great paper stocks available, but not every type of paper is best for every project. One paper stock might be perfect for printing catalogs but not so great for printing greeting cards.

The combination of a paper’s properties dictate how it should be used; so, for example, if you’re printing a brochure you might choose a gloss text paper, since it offers the bright sheen of a glossy coating and the foldability of a text-based thickness. For easy writing, it's best to go with an uncoated stock.

Matte stocks are good for lending a subtle appeal, suggesting elegance and exclusivity. Special coatings such as aqueous or UV further enhance printed promotions by adding a layer of brilliance and protection. If you're a green company, look for eco-friendly recycled paper stocks. This can also be very important to your customers.


Paper in hand


When you use the best paper stock for printing your projects, your designs look phenomenal –captivating customers’ sense of sight and feel – and your marketing materials will deliver a message of quality.


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