What paper weight should you use for your print project?
Different weights of paper are commonly used for different printed items, so what is the best paper weight for a specific job?
From our experience of over 25 years working in this industry, we consider and recommend the best weights for your print job.
As a general rule, and something that each and every one of us would agree with, heavier paper weight results in a greater perception of quality in the reader’s mind. This is why product brochures tend to be printed on heavier paper than magazines or newsletters. For direct mail companies and mail order businesses, lightweight papers are used for their printed products in order to save on postage. Therefore, the paper selected depends on both the perception of quality from the customer and the technical use.
Let’s look at examples of print jobs and explain why these recommendations are appropriate:
Brochures, Catalogues and Magazine Printing
The type of paper weights used in magazines, brochures, and catalogues are often dictated by the market you are trying to reach and the type of customers you hope to attract. The WEIGHT of the FINAL PRODUCT is a major consideration if the shipment will be sent via Royal Mail. There have been instances where clients have spent more on the mailing portion of the project than they did on paper and print combined.
‘Self covers’ are products whose covers are not heavier than the text pages. We recommend using weighted stocks of at least 130gsm for these print jobs. This will ensure that the product conveys an impression of quality. Typically, lighter weight self-covers are less durable and can often be discarded.
To get the best results, we recommend printing a cover weight that is DOUBLE the text weight when printing a heavy cover. For example: A 100gsm gloss text and a 200gsm gloss cover. The text is printed on a 115gsm Matt with a 250gsm Matt cover.
Royal Mail requires that postcards are at least 160 microns thick before they will accept them! In addition to paper weight, this is a measure of board thickness. As a minimum, we recommend using 250 gsm coated stock for your postcard, as this is robust enough to withstand being mailed.
We recommend 250gsm for coated stock and the thickness must be at least 160 microns. Uncoated paper can be used with 170gsm, but we recommend 200gsm. A lighter item is likely to be lower quality, in our opinion.
In terms of sizing and weight, you can use pretty much any stock or paper you want for these, whether they are to be inserted into your own magazine or used as advertising material in a newspaper. In determining the ideal weight, factors such as the message you wish to convey and the perceived quality are important.
Choosing the right weight can be challenging! For wall charts that will be provided flat, or rolled, and won’t be folded to a smaller size, you may use any paper weight between 80 gsm and 400 gsm.
Paper weight is a very critical aspect to consider when designing an A1 or A2 wall planner that will be folded to an A4 or A5 size. When folding a wall chart down to a smaller size, the A1 paper stock needs to be no heavier than 100gsm. It is also wise to only use glossy or uncoated paper.
Furthermore, even when using a stock as thin as 80gsm, you may encounter some unsightly fold marks after the folding process has been completed. Known by printers as ‘crows feet,’ these undesirable marks occur when trapped air escapes while the product is being folded. Sadly, the ‘crows feet’ effect will be more apparent as the weight of the paper increases.
When considering the finish of your chart, if you are planning to laminate it, you should not fold it with the ‘crows feet’ effect in mind. A laminate chart should be made from no less than 200gsm in order to avoid curling and to ensure that the final product is flat.
Materials suitable for these products can be used in most weights, both with capacity and without capacity. Typically, they are used for marketing and sales, to send client product literature, and can be printed on heavier paper stocks. A heavier stock conveys quality about the product or company it represents, as well as providing better protection for the information it holds. For a folder with lamination on one or both sides, we would recommend using a minimum of 250gsm coated paper.
Taking into account the paper on which they are printed is an essential part of gauging the quality of your company. When you use letterheads with your company information to send to prospective clients, the paper they feel can directly affect their perception of your products or services. Your letterhead’s position and the paper you choose are just as important as any other marketing material for any other product. Think of a balance between using high-quality stock options, which could put off prospective customers if they consider your services/products to be too expensive, and using 80gsm copiers, which could produce negative feelings of inferior quality.
The same as with letterheads, business cards represent your business and are sometimes the first impression a potential client has of your company. To determine which business cards are most successful, you may want to look at the business cards of competitors and ask your clients what they think. A print consultant can assist at this stage. Additionally, you should ensure that the finished business card fits in the permitted business card wallet or folder (55mm x 85mm). If your business cards aren’t this size, then there is a high likelihood that you will be the first one thrown away.
What is GSM?
GSM stands for ‘grams per square metre’, and is the international standard measurement of paper density. It directly corresponds to the thickness of the paper – the higher the GSM number, the thicker/heavier the paper will be. For example, a standard sheet of office copier paper has a GSM of 80/100.
- 80 – 100gsm: This paper is ideal for office use and general day-to-day printing.
- 110 – 120gsm: This slightly heavier paper is perfect for business cards and other items that need to be durable.
- 130 – 150gsm: This thick paper is ideal for menus, flyers, and posters.
- 130 – 170gsm: This super thick paper is perfect for business cards that need to be extra durable.
- 170 – 200gsm: Paper with a density of 170gsm or more can be classified as being card. At this thickness, card is ideal for invitations, greeting cards, and other important documents.
- 250 – 300gsm: Card of this thickness is perfect for business cards that need to be extra durable, as well as invitations and other important documents. It can also be used to add a quality finish to any book requiring a cover.
- 350 – 400gsm: This ultra-thick card is perfect for luxury business cards, invitations, and other important documents. It can also be used as a high-quality cover for any book.
- 400gsm and above: We offer this heavy cardstock for luxury business cards, wedding invitations, announcement cards, and many other important documents.
How to Choose the Right Paper Weight
Now that you know what GSM means, you can start to think about which paper weight is right for your project. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
- Printing: Heavier paperweights will give your prints a more substantial feel while allowing for double-sided printing without show-through.
- Durability: If you need your documents to withstand some wear and tear, choose a heavier paper stock.
- Distribution: The cost of distribution will be lower with a lighter paperweight
- Budget: Heavier paper stocks generally cost more than lighter ones.
So, which paper weight should you choose? Well, it all depends on your project. For instance, if you’re creating a marketing piece that will be mailed out, you may wish to opt for a lighter stock as it will help to keep costs low. Or, if you’re designing something that will be handled often, like a menu or a program, you’ll want to choose a sturdier paper to prevent it from tearing.
Still not sure which weight is right for you? We can help! Contact us today and we’ll be happy to advise you on the best paper stock for your project.
What is the difference between GSM and microns?
GSM is a direct measurement of paper density, expressed in grams per square metre. Microns µm measure the thickness of the paper substrate and are not specific to any one sheet size.
Now that you know the difference between GSM and microns, you can better understand which measurement is right for your project. Keep in mind that GSM is a direct measurement of paper density, while microns measure the thickness of the paper substrate. This means that GSM is more accurate when it comes to determining the weight of a sheet of paper.
For more advice about the right paper stock to use for your next printed project, please contact us to find out more.