Choosing the right paper from the many types of paper on the market today will make all the difference in your project. Unfortunately this can be just a little more complex than you believe. Like any purchase, knowing what to look when shopping and why will ensure optimal results.
Like a great cup of tea, the beauty of paper is that there is a special blend suited for every purpose. Magazine coated paper is different that writing paper, or newsprint and for our goal in this article - printer paper.
There are 5 basic pieces of information that you need to know to choose the right paper for your project: weight, brightness, texture, opacity and acid free. But first, lets take a look at how paper is made.
How is paper made?
Video by PaperOne
Weight of paper
The thickness of paper is measured by its weight. The metric system measures paper weight in grams per square meter (gsm) or in our imperial system, pounds per ream (lb). Fun Fact: Standard printer paper is approximately .1 mm thick.
Rule of thumb: the higher the number, the thicker the paper.
- 100 lb. paper can be used for business cards
- 80 lb. paper is used for poster paper
- 20 lb. paper is used to for copy paper
Above: The tool used to measure the thickness of paper is a micrometer.
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The brightness of paper is measured in terms of how much blue light is reflected form it; from a scale of 0 to 100, the higher the number, the brighter the paper.
92-100 works well for short documents and bulletins because brighter paper offers a stronger contrast with black ink.
For logos or visuals that incorporate warmer tones such as red, yellow or orange, opt for brighter paper such as 92 to 100, which will make the colors pop.
For a longer document such as a training manual, make it easy on the eyes by using a less bright level of 92 to 96 paper to avoid strain on the reader’s eyes.
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Opacity is thought of as the ability of paper to hide printing on its reverse side or the sheets underneath, the more opaque the paper, the less show-through. It is measured by the percentage of light passing through a sheet of paper, 100% for perfectly opaque papers to 0% for transparent ones. A paper with a high opacity of 96% will have much less or no show-through of printing on the reverse side of the page. Selecting a sheet with a high opacity is important is you are printing solid blocks of color or bold type.
Opacity increased with basis weight and is affected by brightness, the type of fibers and fillers used to make the paper, and the coating.
Acid- free paper is used for envelope boxes, photo paper and others because it protects the image or contents from turning yellow over time. Acid-free papers are manufactured in an alkaline environment, which prevents the internal chemical deterioration of the paper and makes it resistant to the effects of an external acidic environment.
We hope that these tips will help you when choosing paper for your next printing project.
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