What Paper Should You Choose For Printing?

So you’ve designed your flyer or brochure, found a reputable printer and now you’re ready to print. But what paper stock (paper) should you choose? Should it be a gloss or silk paper or perhaps an uncoated sheet? These are important details that can make a dramatic difference to the end result. Get it wrong and the whole print job will be less than perfect and leave you disappointed. So what are your options and which one is the right one for the job?

what paper should you choose for printing?

What paper should you choose for printing?

There are basically two main categories of paper used today for printing – coated and uncoated paper.

Coated paper or board

This paper has a coating applied to either or both sides of the sheet. It is sometimes called Art Paper. The coating is a mixture of china clay, latex and other compound materials which, once applied, improve the smoothness of the paper surface and prepare it for high quality printing. Coated paper is the natural choice for full colour, high quality print work such as flyers, brochures or posters. The coating will produce sharp images, vibrant colour and faster ink drying times.

Coated paper is available in a number of different finishes, mainly silk, matt and gloss.

Silk coating (silk art or silk) has a smooth finish with a slight sheen. This finish allows for excellent print results without the shine you would get from a gloss stock. It is perfect for company brochures, flyers and posters where the lack of shine makes the print easy to read.

Matte finish (matte art) is also a smooth sheet but has a dull finish. It is seldom used today, but could be a good choice if you are printing large areas of text. Some people prefer the understated finish of Matte Art as part of their image.

Gloss finish (gloss art or gloss) has a glossy coating. This coating allows for fast ink drying and allows for the most vibrant of colours. Gloss is widely used for flyers, booklets and posters and other high profile promotional materials.

Uncoated paper (offset) Uncoated paper has no coating applied to the paper. Although there are different qualities of finish, uncoated paper will still have pits in the surface and does not provide the best results in full colour printing. Drying times are also longer. Use uncoated paper for everyday items like stationery and internal newsletters.

Paper weight

In the UK, paper is measured as grams per square metre – gsm. The higher the gsm the thicker and bulkier the paper, although paper thickness and bulk can vary widely for different paper brands with the same gsm. Generally, silk art will be bulkier (or thicker) than a gloss paper of the same weight. Paper weight ranges from 70gsm up to 400gsm for the majority of print jobs. Heavier board is available but is not usually used for general print jobs.

Letterheads will usually be printed on either 100gsm or 120gsm uncoated paper, leaflets on 130gsm or 150gsm, and flyers on 300gsm or 350gsm.

In A series paper sizes, A0 size is 1 square metre, so a run of A4 letterheads would be printed at 16 pages per A0 sheet of 100gsm, making each A4 letterhead about 6 grams. It’s a good idea before placing any print work to ask your printer to send you samples of the paper stock they use. Ask for a range of weights and finishes and, if possible, ask for printed samples on the material so that you get a good idea of the finished result.

Written by Joanne Serellis

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