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What are the paper options for printing my job?


Your paper choice can make a significant difference in the look and feel of your print communication piece. Commercial printing paper is divided into two broad categories — Coated and Uncoated (sometimes broadly referred to as offset stock). Within each of those categories are sub-categories by weight — Text and Cover stock. Text stock is the lighter weight paper used most frequently for the inside or body of a book or catalog. It is less expensive than cover weight paper. Cover stock is a heavier and more durable paper used for the outside cover of a book or catalog. The heavier the paper’s weight with a resulting greater thickness, the more upscale is the look and feel that will be achieved.

Coated Paper

Gloss, Matte, Dull and Silk stocks are all coated papers. Gloss stock is a coated paper with a shinny or highly reflective finish. It is most often used in four color printing to have full color photographs, images and graphics appear more vivid, real and appealing. Most brochures are printed on 80 # gloss text stock but 70# and 100# gloss text can be equally good choices depending on your needs. For an even greater upscale look and feel, you might choose 80# gloss cover stock.

Matte, dull and silk coated stocks have a flat, unreflective or dull finish. These types of paper are frequently used to make pages easier to read that are text or type intensive. Accordingly, 80# matte text might be appropriate for a statistical or technical intensive catalog or brochure with lots of text and charts. The choice is dependent on your objectives and how the piece will be used.

Uncoated Paper

Uncoated is today’s most commonly used stock as it is the paper used in our desk top printers, copiers and books. The body or text pages for books are usually printed in black ink on white offset stock. The most commonly used weights are 50#, 60# and 70# white offset text. They are named based on the weight of 500 sheets (a ream) of the 25″ x 38″ size of the respective stock.

Bond paper was originally given to paper that was used to print bond and stock certificates. Today it is most frequently used for letterheads and envelopes and is sometimes referred to as fine paper. The most common weights are the 20#, 24# and 28#. They are named based on the weight of 500 sheets (a ream) of the 17″ x 22″ size of the respective stock. Both bond and offset weights are often used interchangeably for uncoated papers. For example, 20# and 50# offset are identical except for the sheet size on which the weight is determined.

When choosing paper for the body of your book, you may want to consider 60# if you have heavy ink coverage for copy other than typed text such as many black and white photographs or graphic images. Another important consideration is the number of pages in your book. Several different choices are available for the cover of a book. For self-cover books (where the cover paper is the same as that used for the body) 50#, 60#, and 70# offset text is frequently used. For perfect bound books (where the pages of the book are glued to the spine) a heavier stock is required (usually above 50 to 80 pages). For saddle stitched books (where the pages are stapled together at the spine) a more durable offset stock is needed, 65# white offset cover is a good choice. For that upscale look or when using full color, you might use 80# or 100# gloss cover.