The right paper truly can make a huge difference in any project.
After taking the time to create a beautifully designed file and getting it ready for print, you want to make sure you don’t ruin it by choosing the wrong paper.
But with so many types of paper to choose from, it isn’t always the easiest decision.
Elements such as brightness, opacity, weight, and finish, are just a few of the many qualities that go into printing paper.
So let’s dive in to each and give you a better understanding of how to choose the right paper for your next print project.
Brightness is simply the paper’s ability to reflect light.
The higher the brightness is, the clearer the images will appear when they are printed on it.
However, keep in mind that brightness and color are not the same thing.
The important thing to know about brightness is that it directly affects the readability of the print.
High brightness emphasizes the contracts between both the light and dark hues, where low brightness can sometimes create a blurred effect.
Another important thing to remember is that brightness and whiteness are not synonymous either.
For example, a paper that has a blueish-white hue will actually appear whiter than a paper that is pure white, even if they both have the same brightness level.
As opposed to brightness that reflects light, opacity is the ability for light to pass through the paper.
High opacity, a.k.a. higher density, increases the readability of the page because you won’t as easily be able to see what is on the opposite side of the page.
If one side has a large colored picture, and the other side is simply text, a page with low opacity will make the side with the text hard to read as the image will most likely be seen through the paper.
If you’re planning on printing brochures, newsletters, or even two-sided sales sheets, make sure to choose a paper with higher opacity.
Now this quality is one that confuses many.
In all honesty, when I first started working in the printing industry, the concept of weight passed right over my head.
If you’ve ever heard paper referred to as 20 lb. or 110 lb., you know exactly what I’m talking about.
For those not familiar with it like I once was, the immediate thought is “how can a sheet of paper possibly weigh over 100 pounds?”
But unlike the number you see when stepping on a scale, these weights refer to the weight of a ream that is given to paper at its basic size.
A ream is 500 sheets of paper and the most common basic size for text paper is 25″ by 38″.
A ream of 80 lb. cover, for example, is measured at 20” x 26” and weighs 80 pounds.
But because the sheet size is smaller, the paper itself is thicker.
Luckily for us, the stock sizes are standard across the industry.
The last quality we’ll talk about today is the finish of the paper.
The finish is the texture of the paper’s surface.
Some paper is coated, which has a more smooth, nonporous surface that is responsive to ink.
On the other hand, uncoated papers are rougher and absorb more ink.
So for higher-quality prints, coated papers work best because uncoated papers with grainy or textured surfaces will not show detailed imagery well.
But because coated papers get their texture from a thin layer of clay or other coating after it’s produced, it creates a surface that is difficult to write on.
If your project has a rebate or special offer that needs to be written on, choose an uncoated paper that makes it easier to do so.
Though choosing the right paper may initially seem simple, don’t ignore it’s importance.
You must first start with an understanding of your own project’s goals, design, and functionality and choose a paper that will meet those needs best.
And if you have questions about paper or anything else related to your print project, please feel free to call us anytime.
We’re always here to help.