How to Pick the Right Paper?

Choosing the right or wrong paper can be the make or break of the presentation of your final project. This could be a business card, magazine, brochure, poster or even a CV. Most professional printing companies will go the extra mile to help you pick a paper that is practical and aesthetic for your project. LISTEN TO THEIR PROFESSIONAL TIPS. You don't necessarily have to go along with it but if you don't have much expertise in post production I strongly urge you to consider their suggestions. The manner in which a print job is presented, or finished, is a crucial element in its production and the primary elements to consider while selecting paper are weight, finish and cost of production.

Paper Weight

Understanding paper weight can be challenging and picking the right paper for your creative project can be confusing. There are two main paper weight metrics. In the U.S., paper is commonly measured in pounds (lbs). "GSM" or grams per square metre is a more worldwide measure of paper weight it is simple, standardized and efficient.


The quality or finish of your paper can influence the way your design is eventually perceived. Let's look at some different types of paper stock.

Coated Paper
Coated paper has been coated with a surface sealant, typically clay, to impart certain qualities to the paper, including weight, surface gloss, smoothness or reduced ink absorbency. Coated paper is more resistant to dirt, moisture and wear. It also makes the printed material more shiny. That is why it is generally used in the printing of magazines, book covers, glossy photos and art books. Coating allows the paper to absorb less ink, making it desirable for sharp images/text since the ink will stay on top instead of bleeding into the paper.

Gloss—gloss coated paper has a high sheen and reflective qualities. Handling of glossy paper is important as the paper can quickly and easily be marred by fingerprints and dirt.

Matte—Unlike glossy paper, matte paper does not reflect light and thereby has a flatter appearance. Matte paper is not vulnerable to being marred by fingerprints and it produces a non-glare photo.

Satin—Satin paper has some sheen to it. It has a lower gloss level than gloss finish, yet a higher gloss level than matte finish.

Dull— A dull finish is an evenly coated paper that is low in gloss. Dull coated paper can fall between matte and glossy paper depending on the manufacturer.

Uncoated Paper
Uncoated paper as you can tell doesn't have a coating. Due to its higher ink absorbency, the images or text printed out on it will appear softer. However, It shouldn't be ruled out as an option because sometimes the softened look is just what you require for a particular look and feel. It is often used for letterheads, booklets, business cards and envelopes aiming to achieve a prestigious and dignified look. Uncoated paper are available in a variety of surfaces, both smooth and textured.

Wove or Smooth—Smooth Texture

Laid—laid paper is created with textured lines on its surface. This finish is used mostly for business stationery elements, like letterhead, envelopes and business cards.

Linen—similar to a laid finish, this paper has textured lines on the surface of the sheet, but they are finer and more regular than those that appear on a laid finish stock. This paper is also used frequently for business stationery.

Cost of Production

Cost is another important element to consider for your printing job especially if you are designing anything that has a purpose. How do you know how much to spend on your project to get the desired results without overspending? Each dollar saved from printing can be invested back into your business. In my next blog I will be talking more about ways in which you can save on printing costs—watch this space to learn more.