Paper 101 - everything you need to know
We understand that in the world of paper supplies a lot of industry lingo is thrown around. We are here to clear any confusion.
Choosing Paper for Printing
At Braley, we stock many different types of paper. Each paper type has its different place in a business. For example at Braley’s we use 80 GSM for our delivery invoicing as this is the cheapest. However, when we send out or promotional leaflets we send this out on Colour 120 GSM. The paper feels softer and thicker and the ink looks more refined and vibrant. Overall it creates a “professional” look.
The golden rule when it comes to paper is to always ask for samples, you will be surprised by the amount of difference in each sheet. It’s important to pick one that reflects your brand image. With the boom of the digital age, less paper is being printed, nevertheless print is still a very valuable tool for marketing your business. Do not overlook the importance of presentation.
At Braley's all of our paper comes from sustainable forests and keeps up with all the EU legislation. We offer many different recycled paper which are cost effective and can help decrease your businesses carbon footprint.
There are generally three different paper types for you to choose from and we're going to look into these in some detail in this blog. Each has features that you'll need to consider.
What Paper to Choose - Gloss, Silk or Uncoated?
There is two simple variables to help distinguish different papers, the feel of the paper and thickness of the paper. The feel of the paper will be discussed below with gloss, silk and uncoated and the thickness will be discussed using GSM.
As the name suggests, gloss paper has a shiny coating. Once upon a time, gloss was
very popular, but these days gloss is not used for digital and litho printing as much as the other options. I think this is basically down changing trend. It's true that a lot of junk mail comes on gloss paper so this could well be the reason why consumers have detracted from the perception of quality that people once had.
It's worth noting that you can't easily write on gloss paper with a ballpoint pen - it's shiny surface doesn't give enough friction for the ball to grip.
Also a coated paper just like gloss, silk paper is somewhere between a gloss and a matt finish. It has a slight sheen to it, without having that mirror-like shine of a full gloss. It is by far the most popular paper that we print onto today – For most of our posters, leaflets and brochures we do send the out on silk paper.
Silk can be written on with a ballpoint pen too. Although not perfect, it's much easier to do than trying to write on gloss as discussed earlier.
Uncoated is just as the name suggests - it doesn't have the coating like a gloss or a silk finish. Regular copier or printer paper is uncoated. It has that slightly fluffy feel to it because you are touching the paper fibres directly. It was once seen as being old fashioned or boring when the coated papers came onto the scene but it's now enjoying something of a renaissance like lots of products these days. Perhaps this could be due to the backlash against gloss paper. Uncoated paper is perfect for writing on - after all it basically is writing paper! Ideal for quality printed business stationery.
What does GSM mean?
Paper comes in different weights, knows as GSM, but it also comes in different finishes, with the most common being gloss, silk and uncoated. This blog looks to explain the difference between three and give you an idea of what to choose, when, and why.
GSM stands for Grams per Square Metre.
If you weigh a sheet of paper that is 1-metre x 1 metre in size, the weight of that sheet in grammes is the GSM value of that paper type.
GSM refers ONLY to the weight of a 1m square sheet of the paper, in grammes. It is not an exact measurement of how thick a sheet of paper is, or how stiff it will be. This applies to paper used in litho, digital or wide format machines.
It's true that heavy papers are usually thicker and stiffer than light papers, but two different papers could both be 400GSM and one could be thicker and stiffer than the other. Stay with me, it will become clear...
While there are no rules when it comes to choosing a paper type, different printed items generally have a GSM range that is most suitable in terms of cost, practicality and quality requirements. Let's look at a few here:
This is the typical range of the type of paper you’d use in your printer or photocopier. It's ideal for compliment slips and pads, especially when using uncoated paper that easy to write on.
120 - 170 GSM
This is a thicker range, generally used for posters and flyer printing. It’s
economically priced yet looks and feels good. This is the typical range for handouts and leaflets like takeaway menus and event flyers.
This is the more premium end of the paper weight range and is suitable for quality print where a weighty look and feel is very important. It’s not quite a card, but rather a thick and sturdy paper, much like the covers of that you’ll see in newsagents.
300 - 400 GSM
This is basically card territory now, with 300GSM being an industry standard for nightclub flyers and street handouts, and 350 and 400GSM ary very common for high quality printed business cards. This card will stand under its own weight (like a Christmas card!) and is the premium paper available in digital printing.
So now you are a paper expert! As I stated before request a sample pack and see what papers suit your business & brand image.
We can supply all of your paper supplies across Bristol and the rest of the UK. Our large selection of paper and printing services makes purchasing easy. Have a look through our Braley Print page for any printing queries you may have.