A Guide to Choosing the Right Paper Stock


As part of the print production process, along with print finishing options, you should consider which paper stock to use.


Paper stock can have just as much impact as the design. The time and effort gone into a beautifully designed piece of work is likely to be wasted if you don’t pay particular attention to selecting a stock that will complement and enhance the design.


Here’s a quick guide, with some pointers to consider:


Talk to your designer and printer

Work with your designer and printer as early on as you can. If you have a particular stock in mind, seek their advice to ensure that what you have in mind will work on that stock. If you would like to see certain stocks for yourself, ask them. Most good printers will be able to obtain samples for you so that you can envisage how your project might look.

Consider the environment

There are ways to ensure a sustainable print production process, from recycled stock to use of vegetable based inks. Talk to your printer to find out what they do and for their recycled stock recommendations.

A tactile approach

In a digital age, the use of printed material can be incredibly effective. The paper stock you use will communicate your design and adds personality. The tactile nature of stock, when used effectively can enhance your message.

Appropriate weight

This is a crucial decision as different weights say different things. For example, a brochure using a heavier weight stock suggests luxury and quality whilst a lighter glossy stock may be more appropriate for a promotional leaflet promoting a local event.

Paper weights are supplied in GSM, which is an acronym standing for ‘Grams per Square Meter’. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the paper.

600gsm – A thick invite card that also works for business cards.
300 to 400gsm – This is a good quality for business card to be printed on as well as high end flyers.
250 to 280gsm – A mid-market magazine cover or a club night flyer, perfect for leafleting.
150 to 170gsm – A good quality promotional poster or leaflet. Something that you’d expect to last a couple of months in most conditions.
100gsm – Mid-Market magazine inner pages.
80 to 100gsm – Sometimes referred to as Offset or Laser, this is the standard weight for stationary items such as letterheads, comp slips and envelopes. Regular copy paper is also 80gsm.

Coated Paper is typically used for stationery promotional items, such as flyers, brochures, postcards, posters etc. It isn’t recommended for regular stationery items.

Coated paper stock has a sealant which gives a crisp finish to full colour graphics, photos and fine detailed images. During printing this sealant restricts ink from absorbing into the surface of the paper. Coated stocks have numerous sheen options: gloss, satin/silk, matt and finishes.

Gloss paper has a high sheen, like a typical magazine and is less expensive than a dull & matte paper of equal thickness. Satin/Silk paper has a smooth surface paper that is low in gloss. Matt paper has very little sheen and is flat looking.

Uncoated Paper – Often used for items such as business cards, invitations and letterheads. This type of stock hasn’t been coated and so inks absorb into the paper to give it a flat appearance. There are a vast number and type of uncoated stocks which are available in a variety of surfaces, both smooth and textured.

Print can provide high value to both the customer and business and deliver a very strong message when done well. Bear the points above in mind when choosing a paper stock and consider how the end user will perceive it.

If you’d like some advice on which paper stock you should use for your next project or would like to discuss any other aspects of your print or design project, give The Global Group a call on 01202 727070 or send us an email via the contact page.