Magazines catalogues and brochuresPaper weight for your printed project

We are all aware that there are different paper weights used for different printed items but what are the ideal weights for specific jobs?

Here we look at, and make suggestions, as to which weights we believe are the best for your print job based on our experience of over 25 years in the industry.

The general rule of thumb, and something each and every one of us would agree with, is that the heavier the paper weight used the greater the perception of quality by the reader. For this reason, product brochures are mainly printed on heavier weights of paper compared to magazines or newsletters. In contrast, with direct mail and mail order companies, you will find their printed products use lighter papers to allow for postage costs. So the paper used is a balance between customer perception of quality and the technical use of the printed item.

We’ll look at examples of print jobs and an explanation as to why we would make the recommendation:

Brochures, Catalogues and Magazines

With magazines, brochures and catalogues it tends to follow that the type of paper weights are dictated by the customers you are aiming to attract and the markets you are selling into. A major factor to consider is the FINAL WEIGHT of the product if the distribution involves using Royal Mail. We have had clients previously who ended up spending more on the mailing element of the job then they did on the paper and print together.

A product whose cover is no heavier than the text pages is called a ‘self cover’ and we suggest that these print jobs use a stock of a minimum weight of 130gsm. This ensures that your product conveys the impression of quality. A lighter weight self-cover can be considered cheap and throw away.

When considering printing a product with a heavier stock cover then we recommend a cover weight that is DOUBLE that of the text weight. For example:  Text 100gsm Gloss with a 200gsm cover Gloss. Text 115gsm Matt with a 250gsm Cover Matt.

Postcards

Did you know that for Royal Mail to accept postcards, they must be a minimum thickness of 160 microns? This is an additional measure to paper weight and is specific to the thickness of board. If your postcard is being printed on a coated stock, we would suggest using 250gsm as a minimum as this would be robust enough to go through the mailing process.

Reply Cards

Again, the minimum 160 micron thickness rule applies and we would recommend 250gsm for coated stock. With an uncoated stock, it is possible to use 170gsm, but we would suggest 200gsm. Anything lighter, in our view, would result in a lower quality item.

Inserts

Whether these are for you to insert into your own magazine or to be used as advertising material within a newspaper they can be pretty much any stock or weight you wish. There will be determining factors to the ideal weight, such as the message you are wanting to convey and the perception of quality you are wishing to achieve.

Wall-charts

This can be a tricky one! If your wall chart is going to be delivered flat, or rolled, and they won’t be folded to a smaller finished size, then you would be okay to use any paper weight between 80gsm to 400gsm.

If your A1 or A2 wall planners are going to be folded to A4 or A5 finished size, then paper weight is a very important consideration. For example, an A1 wall chart which is folded down to an A5 finished size needs to be printed only on lighter paper stocks no heavier than 100gsm. We would also only advise to use gloss or uncoated materials.

Furthermore, whilst undergoing the folding process, it is probable that you will encounter some unsightly fold marks even when using a stock as light as 80gsm. These unsightly marks, known as ‘crows feet’ by printers, are caused when trapped air tries to escape when the product is being folded. Unfortunately, as the weight of paper increases, this ‘crows feet’ effect will become more apparent.

Looking at finishes, if you are considering a laminate to cover your chart, then folding should not even be attempted due to the ‘crows feet’ effect. Secondly, the minimum weight to be used alongside a laminate chart should be 200gsm, so as to avoid curling and to maintain a flat final product.

Folders

These products, both with capacity and non-capacity, are able to be produced using most weights of material. Predominantly they are used as a marketing or sales tool, to send product literature to clients and tend to be printed on heavier weights. A weightier stock works to convey quality about the product or company that they are representing as well as better protecting the information held inside. An ideal weight to use would be 350gsm coated paper but if you are using a laminate on one or both sides of your folder, then we would suggest using no less than 250gsm.

Letterheads

This can be one of the first gauges of your company and is therefore important to consider the paper they are printed on. If your letterheads are used to accompany corporate information to prospective clients, then the paper they feel can directly influence their opinion of your products or services. Decide on how to position your letterhead and treat your paper choice as important for this product as any other marketing material. You may wish to consider a balance between the highest quality paper stock options, which could put perspective buyers off if they perceive your services/ products as unaffordable, and using 80gsm copier paper which could adversely produce feelings of inferior quality.

Business Cards

Similarly to your letterheads, business cards are an ambassador for your business, and in some cases, could be the first and only contact your company has with a prospective client. It may be prudent to take time to undertake competitor research of their business cards and ask clients of their opinion. At this stage, your print advisor should be of great help. A further consideration is to ensure the finished business card is of the recognised size (55mm x 85mm) so that it will fit in a business card wallet or folder. This is very important, because if they aren’t this standard size then there is a chance that your business card could be the first one thrown in the bin.

For more advice about the right paper stock to use for your next printed project, please contact us to find out more.