Paper Weights: Choose the correct type and weight of paper for your printed document

paper sizes what size should my document be setup for print

Choose the correct type and weight of paper for your printed document to give that professional look you were hoping for (It all depends on your documents intended use).

There are many different types of paper material you can use for your printed document.

The choice is yours…

But there are a couple of things to think about to make sure you get your desired results.

The most important thing to think about is who or what is your document for?

Try to make sure you’re getting the correct material fit for your purpose. For example, if its an important business meeting and you want to portray a high quality image to your client, it’s probably best to use a type of paper material that stands out and feels good to touch such as a coated paper stock in the range of 100gsm – 170gsm paper which is often the types of paper for printing brochures. (However, you may not want to go over 170gsm for this because then you’re getting in to the card range – This could be used for your documents cover though – You could use something thicker too such as a 300gsm card stock).

However, if it’s something like a questionnaire that gets filled in there and then and you want a lot of them and you’d like to keep the overall weight down then you might want to go for something that’s lighter and that can be written on such as an 80gsm uncoated paper stock.

Once you’re happy with who and what your printed document is intended for it is time to choose your paper finish and its weight.

Have a look at our handy gsm paper chart to guide you in the right direction.

GSM Weight Description
80   Often found in your everyday copy machine
90   Generally multipurpose paper used in the office printer. Also the most popular business letterhead or stationary weight
100   Perfect weight for brochures and presentations. Excellent for 2-sided printing with minimal show through
120   Perfect weight for brochures and presentations. Excellent for 2-sided printing with minimal show through, while being slightly heavier than the 100gsm
150   This weight of stock is when paper starts to feel like card, great for Self-Mailers (Direct mail that does not require an envelope) with a flexible "soft feel"
     
170   A sturdy stock with a superb "soft feel".  Great for postcards, menus and posters.
200   Common weights for tabs, dividers and folders.
250   A heavy card stock, Can be used to print photographs on as well as a range of other document types.
350   A heavy card stock. It is a noticeably heavier card stock often used for business cards,  flat cards or invitations.
450   A super heavy card stock. It is a noticeably heavier card stock often used for business cards,  flat cards or invitations.

Other weights are available. This is just a quick gsm paper guide to help you decide what to print your documents on.

Types of paper

Types of paper can refer to the finish, colour and texture or even paper brand.

Finish

Uncoated Paper – This term refers to paper that has not been coated with a surface sealant. Colours can seem duller on this type of paper.

There are a variety of surfaces available including smooth and textured. Common types include wove and smooth which are both smooth and laid and linen which are textured.

Coated Paper – This term refers to paper that has a surface sealant applied to it which adds weight to the paper and provides a glossy appearance as well as gives a smoother feel.

There are a variety of coated paper types which include gloss, matte, dull and satin finish.

Gloss coated paper/card can give a greater colour definition and it looks shiny.

Satin coated paper/card is less shiny than gloss but has a similar look in terms of colour.

Matte coated paper/card is non glossy and provides a great look to your pages colour and is heavy than other coated paper/card types.

Dull coated paper/card is smoother than other coated paper and doesn’t have a shine to it.

Useful Resources

Paper Types Explained

More in depth detail can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper

Tip

Many people ask what gsm is card? or what are the paper quality gsm types?

All papers and board/card are either measured by their weight i.e. so many grams for each square metre (gsm) or by their thickness i.e. so many microns thick.

‘Paper’ would be classed as up to approximately 170 gsm and ‘board/card’ is heavier.

Tip

Choose an uncoated paper stock if you’re planning on writing on a document

Or

For a document that needs an instant impact you may want to use a coated paper stock such as a gloss or a silk.

Tip

There are many paper suppliers (Link to PPM Print / Premier Paper) that provide different types of paper, however, as long as you know the specific weight and finish you would like you can let your document printing service do the rest. However, if you’re planning on printing it yourself you can source paper form reputable suppliers but just make sure the paper will fit through your type of printer.

Interesting fact

what is paper?

Paper is a material manufactured in thin sheets from the pulp of wood or other fibrous substances, used for writing, drawing, or printing on, or as wrapping material.

It is said to have been first made in China thousands of years ago and then its usefulness was manufactured on a mass scale where different paper types and weights were created for a variety of reasons – most notably for printing things on in the digital age. Uses of paper can range from folded brochures , types of paper for books, flyers and printed documents.

Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper

Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper

paper weights infographic

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