Papers on a wooden table

What paper weight should I use?

Picking a the right paper weight or thickness of the paper can be a confusing process. However the choice of paper can have a significant impact on the final product. This article aims to demystify the world of paper weights, helping you make informed decisions for your printing needs.

Why is paper measured in Pounds?

Paper weight refers to the weight of a ream (500 sheets) of paper in its basic size. It’s typically measured in pounds (lbs) in the U.S. and grams per square meter (gsm or g/m2) other parts of the world.

Unfortunately, different types of paper can have different basic sizes, which means that two papers may have the same weight in pounds but different thicknesses.

Text or Cover

Typically your first choice is selecting the category of paper. Do you want text (also called book) or cover paper.

Text paper is similar to what you would use in a standard copier or laser printer.

Cover paper is typically much thicker that Text. It is also sometimes called cardstock. While some copiers and laser printers can use the thinnest versions of this type of paper it’s more likely to require a professional press.

Common Text Paper Weights and Their Uses

20-24 lbs: This is the standard weight for most office and home printers. It’s perfect for day-to-day printing needs such as letters, drafts, and internal documents.

24-28 lbs: A bit sturdier, this weight is often used for professional documents, such as letterheads or official correspondence.

32-80 lbs: This range is typically used for brochures, flyers, posters, and other marketing materials. The higher end of this spectrum (known as cardstock) is ideal for business cards, postcards, or other sturdy printed items.

100 lbs and above (over 300 gsm): This category is used for heavy-duty applications like covers of booklets, magazines, or report folders. They are highly durable and give a premium feel.

Choosing the Right Paper Weight

Choosing the right paper weight depends on the purpose of your print. Lighter papers are easy to fold and cheaper to mail, but they can show through and are less durable. Heavier papers feel more substantial and are more durable, but they can be more challenging to print on and are more expensive.

Consider your audience’s experience and the message you want to convey. For instance, a high-quality brochure may benefit from a heavier paper, giving a sense of luxury and durability, while a one-time use flyer might be better on a lighter, more cost-effective paper.

Understanding Paper Weight for Better Printing

In summary, understanding paper weight can make a significant difference in the outcome of your printing project. It’s a balance between the look, the feel, and the function of the printed material. By understanding how weights are measured and the ideal uses for different weights, you can make informed decisions that elevate your print projects to a new level of professionalism.

Remember, when in doubt, consult with your trusted print partner. They can offer advice based on their expertise and even provide samples to help you find the perfect paper for your needs.


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