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Choosing the Perfect Paper for Your Print Project

February 23, 2021 In Design

You’ve spent hours working on the design for your company’s new brochure or direct mailing, and it finally looks perfect. Hooray! Now you’re faced with the next challenge – how do you make your project deliver the same impact on paper as it does on your screen?

Choosing the right kind of paper for your print project is an important decision. Paper can vary significantly by weight, and there are pros and cons to each type. The most important thing to keep in mind is the goal you’re trying to accomplish with your print piece and matching the paper accordingly. You don’t want your new product catalog to tear apart after the first use, but you also don’t need the most luxurious paper for thank-you cards. Before finalizing your next print project, consult our handy guide to help you choose the most appropriate paper weight.

Cards and Direct Mail

Cards are one of the more popular print projects we see from our clients. These projects might include direct mailers, thank you cards or company holiday cards. Because these items are going in the mail, you will want a sturdier paper weight to help the piece survive the trip. However, the item will most likely only be handled by the end user once or twice, so it doesn’t need to be the heaviest paper. Plus, increased weight of your print piece could potentially impact your total shipping cost, so it’s best to keep them relatively lightweight to be safe.

For projects like these, a simple but durable cardstock that is known as “cover stock” will serve your needs best. Cover stock that is a lighter weight, such as 80 lb – 100 lb, will be thick and long-lasting, but not excessively heavy. As with all the options we’ll discuss, cover stock is also available in coated or uncoated styles. Coating will add a gloss that can make colors appear brighter and emphasize blocks of text. Uncoated cover stock has a bit more texture and are often easier to fold. When deciding which kind of cover stock to use for your project, consider your goals and what impression you hope to leave with your audience.

Folders and Business Cards

For projects involving folders or business cards, you typically need a paper that is a bit thicker to withstand more use. We like to recommend a heavier cover stock weight for these pieces. Projects like these often require a weight of 100 lb – 140 lb to make a bigger impact. You may also see paper weight referred to as “points” – in these cases, 100 lb cover stock will be equivalent to 14 pt stock. Quality paper is especially important for the materials that will serve as new contacts’ first impression of your business. For an added effect, try double-layering cover stock for your business cards. With this extra substance, your brand’s materials will be sure to stand out in your new contact’s stack of files.

Posters, Catalogs and Brochures

For prints hanging on walls or larger pieces that people will be flipping through, a lighter weight paper will be the most effective. The weight of heavier cardstock isn’t as helpful in these instances, and it often just slows the reader down. With these projects, we recommend using text weight instead of cover weight. Text weight paper is similar to regular printer paper, but it’s a little bit thicker, which adds durability. There are a range of weights available for text weight paper, but we usually see clients use 70 lb or 80 lb versions for large posters, catalogs, bulletins or brochures.

Of course, choosing the perfect printing paper is not always a cut-and-dry process, and it ultimately comes down to the overall impression you want your project to make. If you’re not sure how to identify the right paper weight for your prints or are interested in adding specialty services to your designs, send us a message or contact your own local printer in your area!