How to Choose Paper for Printing
You’ve developed the ideal design for that brochure, newsletter, postcard, or band reunion notice. Great. It’s now time to select a paper to round off the bundle. Paper selection is critical in printed products since it influences both the cost and the visual attractiveness of the piece.
When selecting a paper, you must define the paper weight, opacity, brightness, and finish.
Choose a Paper Weight
When it comes to paper weight, the thicker the paper, the heavier the weight (higher lbs). Thicker paper stock is more durable, less prone to wrinkling, and represents a higher level of quality. The most typical paper weight is 20 pounds, but marketing campaigns frequently employ paper weighing between 20 pounds to 32 pounds.
- 16-20 lb Bond Paper
Lightweight paper that is good for internal documents, copy paper or multi-page projects.
- 24 lb Bond Paper
The perfect paper weight for letterhead, reports, or other documents that must withstand handling.
- 32-36 lb Bond Paper
A more substantial and durable paper weight, great for résumés, legal documents or other high quality printed projects.
- 65 lb Cover Stock
Cover stock is a heavy, durable paper stock used for business cards, brochures, folders and project covers.
The paper opacity is used to describe the opaque or transparent qualities of a sheet of paper. Some papers, like translucent vellum, are intentionally transparent and can be layered on top of other papers. Opacity should be considered when understanding the degree to which graphics will show through to the reverse side of the paper.
The appearance of a printed object can be affected by the paper shade it is printed on. A white paper shade can range from a cream color to a hint of blue, with the blue shade often appearing to be the brightest color white. The brightness is a measure of the reflectance of blue light wavelengths on a scale from 0-100.
Types of Paper Finishes
Here’s a quick rundown of common paper finishes:
- A smooth finish results from paper passing through sets of rollers during the papermaking process.
- Bond paper is a relatively high-grade paper stock with a rag content ranging from 25 percent to 100 percent.
- Vellum has a subtle roughness.
- An embossed finish provides a molded appearance on the paper’s surface.
- A linen finish resembles linen cloth.
- Cockle is a texture similar to homemade paper.
- Metallic paper is coated with a thin film containing metal or plastic whose color and gloss simulate metal.
- Coated paper has a coating applied to give the sheet a better appearance.
- Cast coated paper results in an exceptionally glossy coated finish, usually only on one side.
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