Choosing the Right Type of Paper for Your Project

When it comes to giving your printed project the kind of impact it deserves, sometimes white copy paper just isn’t good enough. Although we use the stuff for almost everything on a daily basis, its stark-white appearance, thinness, and letter format (8.5 x 11 inches) sometimes just doesn’t have the pizazz your project needs.

Choosing the right kind of paper stock is one of the most important finishing decisions you can make on your project. Often, however, people aren’t familiar with their options and or have the right terminology to describe what they’re looking for.

4 Essential Qualities of Paper You Should Know

Paper is a very diverse product, but for most projects, you only need to know what you want out of its four basic qualities: weight, texture, brightness, and opacity. Our goal with this blog is to help readers like you get a better grasp of the qualities that various types of paper can have, so that you can choose the one that’s right for you!

1. Paper Weight

In the U.S., a paper stock’s thickness is referred to as paper weight. It’s a little beyond the scope of this article to get into why we refer to weight when we’re talking about thickness, so we’ll spare you the details. All that’s important to know is that a phrase such as “20-pound paper” (sometimes stylized as 20# paper) is referring to a paper’s thickness.

Speaking of which, 20-pound paper happens to be the thickness of common copy paper. As poundage goes up, so does thickness. As a frame of reference, paperback book covers, greeting cards, and business cards – from thinnest to thickets – might be printed on card stock measuring between 60 and 120 pounds.

2. Paper Texture

Next to a paper stock’s sturdiness is how smooth or coarse it feels – and looks! Paper can be very smooth or very textured which can be determined by the materials used to make it and whether or not it’s coated. An uncoated paper stock (matte) won’t reflect light and grip well in one’s hands; a coated paper stock (glossy) may reflect light and feel a lot smoother in one’s hands.

3. Paper Brightness

Simply put, a paper’s brightness is its ability to reflect light. Brightness is measured between 80 and 100 for commercial use, where 80 is the least amount of brightness and 100 is the greatest. Generally speaking, an image will look more vibrant on brighter paper. This means papers rated with higher brightness values tend to be more desirable when images and graphics are important features of a document.

4. Paper Opacity

A paper’s opacity refers to its translucence, or how much light can pass through it. Paper with a low opacity will allow more light to pass through it. A common type of low-opacity paper might be tracing paper, or the paper used in dictionaries and Bibles. Common high-opacity papers might be thicker paper stocks like card stock, which limit or eliminate the passage of light.

Need Assistance with Your Next Project?

Acro Photo Print Inc. can help you make all of the important printing decisions for your next project, including helping you decide on the type of paper you want to use. When you work with one of our experts, you can tell us the kind of look and feel you want your project to have, and we can help you select the right type of paper to get it done.

For more information about how we can help, contact Acro Photo Print Inc. online.