How to Choose the Best Paper for Your Printing Project?
When it comes to project printing, the paper selection is the only important decision you need to make. It can have the same influence on the finished product as the design and ink. It may also affect the usage of your printed piece, that is, where, when, and how you can use it. Pricewise, this aspect can have a significant effect when dealing with higher quantities.
Important Knowledge of Paper for Ordering Print
The key features that you should know about when it comes to ordering standard printing papers are their weight, shininess, and finish.
Most of the time, the weight of the paper corresponds to its stiffness and thickness. The heavier the weight, the greater would be the paper thickness and stiffness. Based on the weight, paper is categorized as text stock and cover stock. The text stocks are regular paper used for letters, brochures, letters, publications, book pages, etc. whereas the cover stocks are relatively thicker and sturdier.
Papers also come as coated and uncoated. The coated papers have a glossy coating that produces sharper and more attractive printing. On the other hand, the uncoated papers are non-reflective, just like regular printer paper. They also come in a matte/dull finish, which is not shiny but sleeker and more refined than the uncoated stocks.
If your print job is not so up-to-date with no special effects or options, we are here to provide you with our standard house stocks that will surely help you out. We never compromise on the paper quality! We offer high-end paper stocks that can doubtlessly meet your needs.
However, if you want to be prominent, or have special requirements, or will be mailing your piece, here is a complete guide for you that will help you in learning the basics you should know for paper selection. We hope that you will find us helpful in selecting the best paper for your project!
Choose the Right Paper
When choosing the paper, don’t look at its appearance only. You should know about how you are going to use it, if it will be mailed (that’s because the weight of the paper can affect the postage fee), and if it will be exposed to chemicals, water, or extreme temperatures. Keeping all such aspects in view, make the right choice for the paper, which can fulfill your requirement!
Choose the Right Paper Material
Wood is not the only thing used for paper production. There are papers made out of synthetic fibers, cloth, and even plastics to serve unique purposes. If you are concerned about the environment, then you can go for the green papers. These papers use materials more friendly to the environment that biodegrade faster. Such materials usually come from sustainable forests; however, other options are also available.
Choose the Right Paper for the Job
Print jobs are mostly part of different marketing campaigns for their advertisement via physically printed media such as brochures, posters, business cards, etc. If you want to choose the paper for your print job, here are some tips that will surely help you meet your needs!
- If you are going to use a detailed die-cut, you better use thicker paper then. Such a paper will show more fine details. Using a thinner piece for die-cutting will not display details. You can also use premium paper for detailed die-cutting.
- The postage fee increases when the weight of paper exceeds a certain limit. Therefore, try to keep the net weight of the used paper down if you want to mail it.
- If you are worried that your paper might get exposed to moisture or rain, or extreme temperatures, then you should keep it in a place resistant to these environmental factors.
- When it comes to writing on a paper, there is no match to the uncoated category. Avoid using a coated, sleeky, or heavily textured paper if you want to write on it.
- If there is a possibility for the paper to get wet, choose the type of paper that comes with a water-resistant feature or apply an additional coating on it.
- If you need perforated paper, then you should go for thin and stiff paper. Such a paper performs pretty well for perforations.
Choose an Affordable Paper
The type of paper can affect the price of a printed piece. Using an expensive piece of paper can make your printing project even more costly, especially when printing large quantities. Therefore, you should choose such a paper that does not burden your pocket.
We’ll advise you to choose a paper for function first. It is worthless if your piece looks good but does not perform well or if the mailing or shipping cost causes trouble to your budget because of the weight. We offer high-quality standard papers and good value papers on our ordering pages that print pretty well for almost every printing project.
Paper Stock: Coated vs Uncoated
Based on the finish, the paper stock is classified as coated and uncoated. A large variety of coating finishes and specialized uncoated papers falls in these categories, respectively.
The uncoated paper is like a regular paper with a non-reflective, non-glossy surface and is absorbent. The uncoated paper, as the name implies, has no covering on it and absorbs ink quickly. Such kind of paper can also be covered, for instance, with a linen finish; however, it can be as sleek as the printer or copy paper. Moreover, the uncoated paper is considered the easiest one to write on.
The uncoated papers are commonly used for books, note pads, newsletters, inexpensive flyers, stationery, standard envelopes, etc.
On the other hand, the coated paper has a hardened clay material covering that makes the text and the images more visible and sharper and show denser colors. The coating can either be shiny or non-shiny matte. Also, you can get your piece of paper coated on one side as well as both sides. One side coated paper is commonly used for low-priced postcards. When it comes to writing, coated papers are at a disadvantage! It is relatively harder to write on them with a ballpoint pen or a pencil. However, these papers are perfect for catalogs, brochures, postcards, and packaging.
Specialty Paper Coatings
Some coatings can be applied to the piece of paper after it gets printed. Such coatings are known as specialty paper coatings. This kind of coating prevents your piece of paper and makes it long-lasting. Furthermore, specialty coatings add eye-catching effects to your printed piece. Following are some types of these coatings.
- Aqueous coating: Such coating offers a high gloss or matte look and provides outstanding protection.
- UV coating and Soft-Touch coating: These coatings can effectively change the look and texture of your printed piece.
- Varnish: You can also use varnish to highlight specific details. It also offers high protection to the paper.
Paper Thickness & Weight
Keep in mind the thickness as well as the weight of the paper. These two features are actually the measure of the sturdiness of your paper. The thicker and heavier the piece is, the more it can stand abuse than the thinner and lighter one.
Text and Cover Stock
Whenever we talk about the weight and thickness of the paper, it means we are talking about the text and cover stock. Both of these types of paper are distinguished on the basis of weight and thickness. Text stock includes thinner and more flexible papers that we use in a desktop printer. The textbook pages also fall in this category. On the other hand, cover stock includes thicker and relatively firm paper. We see such kinds of paper in the form of softcovers of textbooks, and greeting cards, etc.
Apart from the books, text and cover stocks are widely used for other purposes too. Brochures, mailers, flyers, and notepads can be made out of text stock. On the other hand, the cover stock is relatively stiff and heavy. So, it can be used in making durable hang-tags, bookmarks, postcards, and any other thing that needs to be hard and erect.
What is Paper Thickness?
Paper thickness is actually the measurement of how thick your single sheet of paper is, which can be the hundredth of an inch or a thousandth. The thickness is usually measured in terms of points, where a single point is equal to the one-thousandth part of an inch or 0.001 inches. A paper with 10 points is 0.01 inches in thickness. Similarly, 20 points are equal to 0.02 inches, and so on.
To understand it, let’s take an example! Business cards are also a piece of paper but a little thicker than regular paper. Most of the business cards use 12 or 14 points to cover stock. However, the cards with extra thickness are printed on 18 or 24 points or even thicker stock. The products like bookmarks, hang-tags, door hangers, table tents, and packaging use papers of such thickness.
How is the Weight of Paper defined?
It is a little harder to define the weight of paper. Its definition depends on the region in which you live. The measurement is taken in terms of density, that is, the mass per unit area. In other words, the weight of paper is measured by weighing a certain amount of paper sheets of a particular size.
Paper is usually weighed in a stack of 500 sheets, and the resultant figure in pounds is called the weight of paper. If a stack of 500 sheets of text stock weighs 60 pounds, such paper is known as 60# text. The text stock paper weights range from 60# to 100#. Similarly, if a stack of cover stock sheets weighs 120 pounds, such paper is referred to as 120# cover.
When it comes to the weight and thickness, we think the weight is directly proportional to the thickness. The more the thickness is, the heavier the paper is! But have you ever thought about the opposite aspect? You sure won’t imagine! However, here are some examples of an uncommon type of paper, thicker but not so heavier at the same time.
- 60# text: This type includes copy or printer paper, similar to the paper sheets used for legal documents.
- 80# text: This type involves heavier paper used for posters, flyers, or brochures.
- 120# cover: This type contains thin cardboard, which is best for postcards, business cards, and note cards.
How to Choose the Right Thickness & Weight?
The weight and thickness of the paper hold a dramatic impact on your final piece, yet it can confuse you when it comes to choosing paper sheets with suitable thickness and weight. To get rid of such confusion, you should consult with some printing professionals before buying a stock. However, here are some of the things that you should keep in mind while choosing the weight and thickness of the paper.
- If you are looking for papers for die-cutting, embossing, and foil stamping, you should go for thicker ones. The thicker paper shows more details.
- If you want to mail as a self-mailer, your paper should have a certain thickness to pass US postal regulations. The final thickness should be at least 7 or 9 points, depending on the size.
- Keep in mind that you pay by the weight of mailing paper. Therefore, keep the right paper weight for the size of the mailing piece.
- If you want to print a catalog or magazine, make sure the interior paper and cover are of the right thickness since some combinations and configurations can cause binding issues.
- The thinner paper is usually cost-effective. Such paper uses less material, which makes it more friendly to the environment
- The thicker paper is sturdier and can endure more abuse than the thinner one.
- For extreme conditions, you can SmartFlex, a plastic paper that acts and looks just like paper. This type of paper is water-resistant and tear-resistant as well.
Paper Brightness & Opacity
Your paper quality and specifications influence the impression of text and the images you print on the paper.
Brightness measures the reflectance of blue light of a particular wavelength. Its measurement uses a scale starting from 0 to 100; the higher the number, the brighter the paper.
The brightness has a high impact on the paper contrast and decides how readable the print is. The brighter the paper, the more readable it would be. Moreover, the ink colors appear more vibrant and refined on the bright paper. On the other hand, the paper with less brightness appears a little yellowish. So, we can say that the brighter papers are the best for high-end printing, especially for printing art projects and advertisements.
For printing darker images, paper with less brightness is prioritized. However, the brighter one gives the best performance for colorful figures and designs.
The opacity is basically the measure of the transparency of your paper. It determines how much of your print is visible on the other side of the paper. If everything appears on the other side, it means the paper has 0% opacity, for instance, tracing papers. Whereas, if there is no trace of the print on the other side, it means it is fully opaque or has 100% opacity. Examples for such paper include greeting cards and postcards etc.
Opacity is an important thing to consider since you won’t like to see the traces of your print on the other side. Less opacity will make the other side of the paper distracting and hard to read.
Aqueous coating is a matte or glossy coating, which provides exceptional protection to your printed piece. As its name implies, the coating is water-based, which makes it environmentally-friendly. You can also apply the aqueous coating on your print to make it waterproof. Due to its water-resistant property, this coating is more often used in postcards. If you want to give your printed piece a lavishing look and make it water-resistant as well, then the aqueous coating is for you! You can get this coating free of cost on any product available in coated stocks.
UV coating uses ultraviolet light that helps the coating to dry instantly and gives a brilliant shine upon hardening. When it comes to glossy coating, there is no other match to the UV coating. However, it is not so beneficial to use it on paper that has to be folded. If you use UV coating on such paper, your coating will crack and will eventually wither away. Therefore, using UV coating on a piece that will be folded, embossed, or foil stamped is not a good idea!
Small areas or patches can also be coated with this coating on your piece to create brilliant highlights. The UV coating on small patches is known as spot UV. This coating makes the colors look more vibrant and dynamic. If you want to make your print exceptionally glossy with catchy colors, UV coating is undoubtedly for you!
When you apply the soft-touch coating to your printed piece, the texture of the paper becomes velvety smooth. This coating gives your print a soft, luxurious look and offers it exceptional protection. Plus, it adds a warm effect to the colors of the printed images. Mostly, the soft-touch coating is applied to business cards. If you want to give your printed piece a velvety look, you can definitely go for soft-touch.
Varnish is a transparent, hard protective coating that you can apply to your paper to give it an artistic touch and high-end protection. You can apply it either to your entire print or on a small area (spot varnish). Moreover, you can apply varnish to your printed piece to make it glossy or matte. Such coating is very beneficial for logo highlighting, a call of action, or any part of an image. Note that varnish coating is much similar to aqueous coating but is relatively less glossy. The use of varnish has become outdated because of aqueous and UV coatings; however, it is available as a custom option.
Whenever you hear the word premium, you immediately think about something ranked as superior and classy. The same goes for the premium paper. Premium paper is the kind of paper stock that features the best texture, thickness, brightness, opacity, and coating. Anything printed on such paper appears much better than any other paper option. The premium paper provides luxurious textures, outstanding print performance and allows printing on both sides with 100% opacity. Such paper is mostly used in annual reports, for marketing, and as book covers. All these benefits aside, the premium paper is a little expensive. Therefore, it is not a good idea to use this paper for every project.
We offer a large variety of high-quality premium paper that will surely make your special projects more outstanding.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can we compare Matte to Uncoated stock?
The uncoated paper is naked paper, which is perfect for writing. On the other hand, the matte coating is not so good to write on. Moreover, the matte-coated piece gives the printed images more vibrant and sharper colors. It also serves as a shield to your piece of paper.
Why should I use a flood color instead of printing on colored paper?
If you print your project on colored paper, the original colors of your images get changed, leaving them a little darker. On the other hand, flood coloring generates a perfect background for your design without changing the original colors. Your piece looks nicer since you can print full-color images on plain white paper and replicate the colored paper by flooding the remaining page. Moreover, the coated stock offers limited shades. Therefore, flood coloring is the best option for you in most situations.
What is the difference between recycled and sustainable paper stock?
Recycled paper uses either post-consumer waste or pre-consumer waste like sawdust from timber and furniture manufacturing and goes through some procedure to turn it back into paper. However, the material needs to be purified before turning it back. On the other hand, sustainable paper type originates from carefully controlled forests that are replanted and renewed.
In our opinion, recycled paper causes problems to the environment since the procedure uses toxic chemicals. However, the use of sustainable paper doesn’t burden the environment.
What kinds of recycled paper do we have?
We have at least 10% recycled content (pre-consumer content mostly) in our house coated and uncoated stocks. We can also order custom stocks with the varying amount of post-consumer recycled content up to and including 100% of this recycled content.
How can I differentiate weight and thickness or pound and point size?
The thickness of the paper indicates how thick it is. Its measurement is denoted as the point size, which is a thousandth part of an inch. The greater the point is, the thicker the paper would be, and vice versa.
On the other hand, the weight tells us how heavy our page is. The pound is a standard used for the measurement of weight. In some cases, paper can be thick and light or thin and heavy, but the thicker paper is usually heavier.
What is the lightest stock you carry?
In uncoated stock, we have 60# text as the thinnest and the lightest uncoated sheet. However, in the coated stock, the 80# gloss text is the lightest sheet. Both are around 3.5 points thick.
What is the best paper stock to write on?
For writing, the uncoated category of paper stock is prioritized. Uncoated paper is a naked paper on which you can write with a ballpoint pen or pencil. Such paper is absorbent that soaks up the ink in no time, leaving a dry note behind. However, if you have contact with water, then the uncoated paper is not a good choice. It will soak up the water and will consequently turn into a mess. Nevertheless, high-quality coated stocks offer matte stocks that you can use with a certain type of pens. You will definitely want to do some testing to make sure whether the combination you use is helpful or not!
What kinds of paper are the most durable?
In general, we consider thicker paper as the more durable one; it totally depends on the way it is coated. If your thick paper is heavily coated, your paper will turn into a sludge upon dropping it into the water. In contrast, paper with a thin covering of UV coating will immediately sweep the water away.
In our opinion, the most durable paper of all is the SmartFlex, which is plastic-based paper. It looks, acts, and prints like paper but is waterproof and tear-proof.