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Tips On Choosing The Right Paper For Your Print


Written on Thursday, 21st August,  2014



Selecting the right paper for a printing job can be a terrifying task. But it doesn’t have to be. When choosing the right paper type for a particular print job, you’re often faced with an overwhelming number of options.

To the educated consumer, the choices don’t seem nearly as intimidating. Before you order though, you’ve got to know the menu. Paper has ten characteristics that affect its cost and appropriateness for a given job: Surface, Colour, Brightness, Opacity, Grain, Weight, Caliper, Bulk, Size and Quantity. Lets take a closer look at these and see how they will affect your printing requirements.



The surface of paper affects its look, feel and printability. When paper is pressed at the mill, it passes through a series of rollers in a process called calendaring. Calendaring affects paper in numerous ways. As the extent of this process increases, paper is made smoother, glossier, more capable of retaining ink, thinner, less opaque and less bright. Why does surface matter? Because people do judge books by their cover.



The colour of paper is perhaps the most obvious of all characteristics. White is by far the most popular colour and is generally optimal for conventional usage. Not all white is the same, however — it runs the gamut from ultra-bright hues to softer, more antique shades. Photo white paper is best for accentuating the contrast between light and dark hues.

Off-white sheets produce less glare, and are best used for publications such as novels or technical manuals that demand long and uninterrupted attention from readers. When comparing colour, always examine paper under standard viewing conditions and with minimal atmospheric distractions.



The brightness of paper measures the percentage of light that it reflects. Most papers reflect approximately 60 to 90% of incoming light. Remember: brightness and color are not the same thing. Unlike the colour characteristic (which is highly subjective and imprecise), brightness is a measurable attribute. Brightness is important because it affects readability — high brightness can cause eye strain, while low brightness can produce a blurring effect.



The opacity of paper is the degree to which other printing is visible through the page. High opacity, or density, minimizes the visibility of printing on subsequent pages, thus enhancing readability. Opacity increases with the bulk and weight of paper, and is influenced by numerous other factors, including paper color, ink color, coatings, chemicals and coverage.



The grain of paper describes the direction, or alignment, of its component fibers. Paper grain is either grain long or grain short. When fibers are patterned parallel to the length of a sheet, the paper is grain long. When fibers run parallel to the width of a sheet, the paper is grain short. Grain direction is a critical factor for print jobs because it directly affects usage — for example, paper strength, flexibility, tack and versatility are all impacted by grain direction.



Paper density, also known as basis weight or grammage is a term used in the pulp and paper industry to denote a measure of mass of the product per unit of area for a type of paper or paperboard. In the metric system, the mass per unit area of all types of paper and paperboard is expressed in terms of grams per square meter (g/m2). This quantity is commonly called grammage in both English and French (ISO 536), though printers in most English-speaking countries still refer to the "weight" of paper.

Typical office paper has 80 g/m2, therefore a typical A4 sheet (1⁄16 m2) weighs 5 g. The unofficial unit symbol "gsm" instead of the standard "g/m2" is also widely encountered in English speaking countries. Typically grammage is measured in paper mill on-line by Quality Control System (QCS) and verified by laboratory measurement.




Paper thickness, or caliper, is a common measurement specified and required for certain printing applications. Since a paper's density is typically not directly known or specified, the thickness of any sheet of paper cannot be calculated by any method. Instead, it is measured and specified separately as its caliper. However, paper thickness for most typical business papers might be similar across comparable brands. If thickness is not specified for a paper in question, it must be either measured or guessed based on a comparable paper's specification.

Caliper is usually measured in micrometres (1/1000 of a mm).



The bulk of paper denotes its thickness relative to its basis weight. For example, uncalendared paper would have a higher bulk than gloss coated paper. Remember though that paper may be bulkier or thicker than another grade, yet still have the same basis weight.



The size of paper describes its physical dimensions. An A4 sheet is 210mm wide by 297mm long. Access to specific information concerning the range of paper sizes available for any given printing job is essential to containing costs and ensuring efficient usage.



The quantity of paper refers to the number of sheets bought, sold or used. A ream is a standard unit of numerical paper quantity. Paper that is “ream-wrapped” is packaged in a bundle of 500 sheets. Cartons of paper are not defined by exact numerical specifications, but approximate weight.



In short, if you are not sure which paper you should be using please feel free to pop in to our offices at 14 Penrose Wharf Business Centre, Penrose Quay in Cork City and we will be delighted to show you some samples. Or drop us line or email and we'll help you out.






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Evergreen Print & Design

14 Penrose Wharf Business Centre,

Penrose Quay,



Email: evergreenprintcork@gmail.com

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