What To Look For In A Paper?

In this old post I talked about the importance of testing the sheets and how could you succeed choosing the right one by experimenting with it and experiencing failures. Today I will explain the 5 keys (terms widely known in printing industries) in the most friendly yet briefly way for a better understanding.


Paper Types

They are separated in 2 major categories: uncoated and coated. Coated finishes are divided by matte, dull, cast, gloss, and high gloss. With these subcategories, the paper stocks are classified as: offset, bond, cover, index, and vellum bristol (The common commercial printing papers).

Some papers are brighter while others don’t, but beware, a matte 100lbs. may seem much brighter and whiter but the colors of printed images comes dull.

Brightness & Color

Some come with a varieties of color and brightness ( expressed on a scale 1-100). It is very important the level since it can affect the readability and the quality of the product. The brighter and whiter the sheet is, the images will be more lighter and vibrant.

This is how my eyes perceived the textures of each by just googling some images.


Paper finishes are usually refer has the texture and appearance of a page. The finish of the printed image or photo will depend and get affected by the paper’s texture. Some can even fall in 2 categories such as: smooth or textured.

Different thickness, different pounds, different papers.

Paper Weight 

This can be quite confusing since not all of them have the same weight. The term refers to the thickness, density and the sturdiness of the sheet, not the weight overall. The most common word known is “Basis Weight” which is defined as the weight of 500 sheets of paper in it’s basic unit uncut size (before been cut in Letter or Legal size). There are 3 common methods for specifying paper weight and thickness: Basis (lbs.), Substance (Sub.) or Pound (#). Another term that you can stumble upon is GSM. Is the acronym standing for “Grams per Square Meter“.


Depending of the thickness, components and ink absorbency the sheet will be able to generate the best quality as possible. Having a higher degree of opacity helps to retain the ink from spreading to the back side of it. On the contrary images may shown through the page.



Mark, K. (2014, April 5). Paper weight, GSM and what it all really means:. Retrieved from http://www.theprintgroup.com.au/paper-weight-gsm-and-what-it-all-really-means


Schinkel, S. (2016, January 20). All About Paper Finishes | The Paper Blog. Retrieved from http://blog.thepapermillstore.com/all-about-paper-finishes/


Kleinfeld, M.(2012, December 14). Difference in Stocks: Paper, Cover Text, Offset and Board. Retrieved from http://www.postcardsrus.com/blog/post.cfm?id=14&


Besta, R. (2016, May 25). How to Choose the Right Paper for Printing. Retrieved from http://www.breathingcolor.com/blog/choose-right-paper/


Petraki, A. (n.d.). PAPER TYPES. Retrieved from https://rubiks.ca/EN/resource-center/useful-printing-tips/26-american-paper-sizes–what-are-the-american-paper-sizes-how-to-convert-paper-sizes.html


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