Choosing the Right Paper

Choosing the Right Paper:
Whether your next project prints offset or digital you’ll want to choose the right paper for the job.  Like most advertising, you only have seconds to make a good impression and capture the attention of your audience.  Effective print begins with eye-catching design followed by persuasive content and yes, paper.

Consider Color:
The majority of printing is done on white paper. Images look crisper, more vibrant and it is less harsh to the eye on white paper.  There are times though that you could choose an off-white paper or even and extravagant color from the French Paper Company to add impact for your printed piece.  Whatever color you choose, consider how your piece will be used and your audience.  Give your document a fighting chance and begin by choosing a suitable color.

Weighing the Options:
Paper thickness or density
is expressed in grams per square meter (g/m²) or pounds.  The thicker the paper, the higher the number.  Without getting too technical about how the paper industry arrives at a number, here are the basics.  Paper is divided into two categories; text and cover weight.  Within each category there are several thicknesses.  For example, you can choose an 80# (pound) or 100# text.  There is also the cover weight version of 80# and 100#.  Thicknesses range from very thin text to heavy text weight as well as thin cover to very thick cover weight.

Here are some things you should consider when choosing paper weight.  If your project will be printed on both sides, the opacity of the paper is important.  Make sure the other side won’t show through.  When in doubt choose a heavier stock.

If your printed piece will be mailed, the weight is extremely important.  Make sure to consider postage costs and that the finished piece meets USPS requirements.

If bulk and weight are important, consider using an uncoated sheet (see below).  A coated paper will weigh more that its counterpart.  Even though it weighs less, the uncoated sheet will be thicker because uncoated paper has a higher bulk.

The Finish:

Along with color and weight, choosing an appropriate finish could set your price apart from your competition and give it a personality of its own.  If you’re concerned with crisp images or photo reproduction, then a gloss or matte finish would be the safe choice.  However, the trend in the industry is toward an uncoated sheet creating a softer tone.  Also the texture of an uncoated sheet has a more natural feel.  For something completely different, try something new like an unusually textured paper.  These even make a one color job stand out.  By combining unique color and texture you can have an award winning piece.

Beginnings and Endings:
When designing or planning your next printed piece you should begin by narrowing down your paper selection so the end result will be an eye catching, effective marketing tool that represents your product or business that will capture the attention of your audience.  After all, you only have few precious seconds.

By Rob Zelinsky
Digital Operations Manager,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District


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