Top Things to Know About Paper Stocks & Paper Weight for Print Marketing

To help you better understand which paper stock and paper weight works best for your design, we put together a detailed list of key paper terms that you can bookmark and refer to for all your print marketing needs!  

The type of paper you use is just as crucial as the actual design of your print marketing piece. Coordinating your paper stock and design will help elevate the final impression that your print marketing piece will leave on its recipient. 

How do you want the result of your print marketing piece to look and feel in your hands? 

If you’re printing a brochure with high-resolution photographs, for example, you’ll want paper stock and coating that boosts color, sheen, and vitality. 

IT’S TIME TO PREPLAN! 

In the current and upcoming year, we highly recommend that you begin preplanning your print marketing campaigns in accordance with the paper stocks available. This is due to the global shortage of paper brought about by COVID-19 which has led to a major decline in paper mills manufacturing ability around the world.  

To combat the shortage and to keep your print marketing campaign on track, let’s begin by selecting your paper stock early on!  

This will help your print provider ensure that they are able to meet your print needs. However, if your stock choice isn’t available, extra lead time will also provide your print provider with the ability to recommend a similar stock that is available for your design.  

How do you begin preplanning?  

We’ve gathered some key information on paper stocks and special coatings that will help you better understand the logistics of a successful print marketing campaign.  

What does your design feature? Images? Text? Both? Depending on the key features of your design, you’ll want to select a stock and coating that upon completion will achieve your campaign’s desired effect. 

Ask your commercial print provider for paper samples as soon as you’ve created your design. It’s so much easier to select a stock that you think will fit your design best when you can see it with your own eyes and feel the texture in your hands.  

PAPER STOCKS 

Here are some key paper stock and finish terms to use based on your desired outcome for your print campaign: 

Coated Stock 
The paper’s exterior has been coated to achieve a glossy, matte, or silky texture. A level of shine is created on the surface of the paper that makes color brighter and more eye-catching! The coated stock creates a less porous surface, allowing the ink to stay on top of the paper. This is what causes the smoother, brighter finish.  

    • Gloss Coated: This coating features a high shine that brightens the colored images and graphics in your design. 
    • Dull Coated: This coating’s features are somewhat in between what glossy and matte coatings offer. It features a smooth appearance with a slight shine.  
    • Matte Coated: Neither lustrous nor glossy, the matte coating is the better selection for designs featuring lots of text. Because it doesn’t shine, it’s great for print pieces that are designed to be read. 

Cover Stock 

When choosing a stock for your cover, you’ll want to go for something thicker than standard paper. Cover stock is much more resistant to wear and tear than regular paper or “text stock” because of its thickness. This stock is best to use as the cover of a perfect-bound magazine, company handbooks, or postcards. 

House Stock 

If you’re working with a commercial print provider, this is a term you will be hearing quite often. “House” refers to your printer’s favored stock that is kept in-house at the printer’s production facility. This stock is common among print marketing stock selections which is why it’s ordered in bulk and kept in inventory.  

Text Stock 

I’m sure you can guess what this stock is used for. This is significantly thinner and lighter than, say, cover stock. It’s best used as a stock selection for a magazine’s or book’s inside pages, flyers, or company letters. Note: You’re also able to add just about any finish you prefer onto this stock.  

Uncoated Stock 

No coating has been added to this paper stock before printing. Because of this, this stock has a dull appearance and a rough texture. There is no glare on the surface because there is no coating. The lack of coating makes this stock perfect for print marketing campaigns that feature a lot of text or reading. 

Finishes 

    • Soft Touch: This type of coating creates a finish that gives the paper a velvety, soft texture.  
    • Varnish: This is a clear ink that coats the entire print piece – adding shine and vibrancy, especially to photographs and images.  
      • It comes in three different finishes: gloss, satin, and matte.  
      • The coated layer of the gloss varnish is able to reflect light which makes featured images entirely more vibrant.  
      • Matte varnishing serves to soften the print piece with its smooth, dull finish.  
      • The satin varnish is similar to matte because it has a smooth finish. However, it is still able to add depth to your print piece’s featured images.  
      • Varnish is great for magazine covers, flyers, and brochures. 
    • Aqueous: This is a transparent, water-based coating that dries quickly. Its purpose is to protect printed pieces.  
      • The water-based feature makes it the most eco-friendly coating. 
      • Aqueous finishes include gloss, satin, matte, dull and soft touch. 
    • UV: This is a clear, shiny coating applied to the stock that offers an elegant, luxurious feel for your print piece. 
      • Spot UV: This coating is the same clear, shiny coating as UV, but it is applied only to select areas of your print piece.  
      • Other UV options include gloss, matte, dull, textured and glitter.  

The next and most important part of the paper stock selection process is also understanding paper weight. Paper weight will determine the thickness of the paper that will be used for your design.  

PAPER WEIGHT 

Here’s a list of the most common paperweights for paper stock and our recommendations according to your print medium: 

STANDARD BASIS WEIGHT (lbs)                         

  1. 20lb Bond/ 50lb Offset 
  2. 24lb Bond/ 60lb Offset                        
  3. 28lb Bond/ 70lb Offset                              
  4. 32lb Bond/ 80lb Offset                          
  5. 50lb Book/Text/Offset                              
  6. 60lb Book/Text/Offset                          
  7. 70lb Book/Text/Offset                              
  8. 80lb Book/Text/Offset                            
  9. 100lb Book/Text/Offset                          
  10. 65lb Cover                                                
  11. 80lb Cover                                              
  12. 100lb Cover      
  13. 130 lb Cover               

We have a free paper weight conversion calculator that you can find here. For our clients who operate in grams, this will make it as easy as possible to quantify the paperweight (in LBS) of your print project. 

Brochures 
Brochures that are folded are printed on a stronger card stock to preserve their shape. You can use a 100lb. cover or 10pt. card paper for sturdier brochures. Use 70# or 80# pound paper for more flexible brochures. 

Catalogs 
Businesses often use a heavier weight for the catalog’s cover and a lesser weight for the inside product pages. A catalog with an 80lb. cover stock is very durable. The 100# Gloss Text is comparable to the 80# gloss text, but it is 25% thicker and heavier, giving it a more substantial feel and longer shelf life.  

Magazines 
When printing a magazine, we often see 50#, 60#, or 70# lb paper weight selections for the inside pages and 80# or 100# lb. “cover stock” for the front covers. We have a dedicated team that would be happy to assist you with any of your questions for your magazine quote. Feel free to contact us using the form below so that one of our experience print professionals can get back to you ASAP! 

Flyers 
Flyers are commonly printed on uncoated or matte paper that weighs between 70 and 80 pounds. 

Postcards 
Postcards that will be mailed have to meet US Postal Service regulations for size and thickness. In general, your postcards need to be printed on 100# cover or higher to mail.  

Don’t see your recommended paper weight above? Contact us using the form below and a member of our team will be happy to review your specs and offer a solution.  

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