Tips on Paper selection


Choosing the right paper for a printing job can be a daunting job as you are often faced with an overwhelming number of options. However with a little bit of help its not that difficult to select the right paper for your project. We will be more than glad to show you samples and discuss your needs with you. We find that seeing and feeling different paper samples goes a long way in selecting the right paper for your job. Below are just a few technical terms that you might hear us use as we help you as you make your paper choice. 



The surface of paper affects its look, feel and printability. When paper is pressed at the mill, it passes through a series of rollers in a process called calendaring. Calendaring affects paper in numerous ways. As the extent of this process increases, paper is made smoother, glossier, more capable of retaining ink, thinner, less opaque and less bright. 



White is by far the most popular color and is generally the best for most usage. Not all white is the same, however — White can run the gamut from ultra-severe hues to softer, more antique shades. 

Off-white sheets produce less glare, and are best used for publications such as novels or technical manuals that demand long and uninterrupted attention from readers. When comparing color, always examine paper under normal viewing conditions.



The brightness of paper measures the percentage of light that it reflects. Most papers reflect approximately 60 to 90% of incoming light. 

Remember: brightness and color are not the same thing. Unlike the color characteristic (which is highly subjective and imprecise), brightness is a strictly quantitative, or measurable, attribute. Brightness is important because it affects readability — high brightness can cause eye strain, while low brightness can produce a blurring effect.



The opacity of paper is the degree to which other printing is visible through the page. High opacity, or density, minimizes the visibility of printing on subsequent pages, thus enhancing readability. 

Opacity increases with the bulk and weight of paper, and is influenced by numerous other factors, including paper color, ink color, coatings, chemicals and coverage. Therefore, a 20 pound paper has more bleed through than the heavier weight 60 pound paper. 



The grain of paper describes the direction, or alignment, of its component fibers. Paper grain is either grain long or grain short. 

When fibers are patterned parallel to the length of a sheet, the paper is grain long. When fibers run parallel to the width of a sheet, the paper is grain short. 

Grain direction is a critical factor for print jobs because it directly affects usage — for example, paper strength, flexibility, tack and versatility are all impacted by grain direction. 



The basis weight of paper is calculated as the weight in pounds of one ream, or five hundred sheets. Each main grade of paper has a basic size that is used to determine its basis weight. Note that paper of equivalent basis weight is not necessarily of equivalent basic size. Smaller sized paper that is thicker can possess a basis weight identical to that of larger, thinner paper. 


The caliper of paper is its thickness. Caliper is measured in thousandths of an inch and referred to as point size. In this system, .001 inch equals one point — and eight-point paper would have a thickness of .008 inch. 



The size of paper describes its physical dimensions. An 8.5 x 11 sheet is 8.5 inches wide and 11 inches long. Standard size paper is generally either 8.5 by 11, 8.5 by 14, or 11 by 17. Parent sheets are larger sized paper which would be cut down to the particular need.