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Paper Stocks Explained

3 Common Paper Options for Custom Printing...

Paper is critical and can be confusing. Sure, everyone is familiar with rule-lined writing paper used in school and 20lb paper used in our office printers, but from there, it gets complicated. Getting the best results for your custom print projects requires selecting the right paper for the right job. Let’s solve the mystique and mystery of paper by exploring the look, feel, and use of paper types for printing.  

The Look 

The overall design can range from subtle to bold simply based on the various types of paper used. The color of the paper is the first consideration. Colored paper adds punch and pizzazz to your customer’s designs but may require white or metallic inks for the text and graphics to be visible. Black ink on dark-colored paper lacks contrast and is not effective. Colored paper is best used sparingly due to the added costs, but can be great for a book, report cover, or inserts to call. 

Paper can be manufactured with other optical properties. The pearl metallic paper offered by 4over under lays the design with a shimmering surface, which works well for business cards, announcements, and greeting cards. For the natural, environmentally friendly approach, brown kraft paper that shows the natural grain of the paper is an excellent choice. 

The look can also be enhanced through special effects, called embellishments, and coatings. Akuafoil, offered by 4over, is a process where metallic ink is printed, and then CMYK inks are printed, creating the look of shiny foil. Akuafoil is more cost-effective for your customers than traditional foil applications and is available in a broader range of colors. Coatings are another way to add visual impact where the finished piece can look dull using a matte or satin coating or shiny using an aqueous or UV coating. Unlike the other coatings, which mainly impact the appearance, a UV coating also makes the print resistant to fading when used outdoors or exposed to sunlight. Any print materials created to drive marketing and sales, like rack cards, sell sheets, flyers, and brochures, can benefit from coatings and embellishments. 


The Feel 

Do not overlook the tactile impact of paper. How paper feels can be as powerful a statement as the visual impact of the design. Texture and weight are essential to get the right feel. Textures can be integral to the paper as with linen paper or applied after printing as silk and suede soft-touch applications. Textured paper and treatments work well for print that will be touched repeatedly, like business cards. 

The weight and corresponding thickness of paper also impact how the print is perceived. Heavier papers can be used to increase durability but are just as likely used to create a perception of higher quality, even luxury. Paper weights in the United States are determined by the weight of 500 sheets of the base size of that type of paper, referred to as its basis weight. The vital point to understand, and likely the most confusing part for your customers, is that basis weights do not correlate directly — an 80-pound text paper is much lighter than an 80-pound cover! Here is where online paperweight calculators and charts help to compare types of paper and their weights. An alternative is using the friendlier grams per square meter (GSM) approach to paperweights, which is more common in Europe but increasingly found in the U.S. market. GSM paperweights are correlated, meaning a 100 GSM paper is always lighter than a 300 GSM paper. 


The Use 

Think about how and where the printed product will be used. Products with high use, like restaurant menus, would benefit from a synthetic paper (EnduraAce) that is tear and water-resistant. Applying an aqueous coating to postcards further protects the print from damage as it goes through the equipment used by the postal service.  

Environmental and sustainability concerns cannot be overlooked. Some of your customers may have corporate policies or just prefer using recycled content. Understanding the options for recycling once the printed product is discarded may also be necessary. 

Educating your customers to be better informed on the importance of paper selection as it relates to the look, feel, and use will help ensure the project and your customer’s satisfaction. Take advantage of samples, FREE marketing resources, and educational videos from 4over! 

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As one of North America’s largest trade-only printers and a trusted source for print fulfillment since 2001, 4over helps print, design, and other creative services resellers grow profitable businesses. We do this by offering a vast selection of quality print products at guaranteed trade-only prices. Our expansive e-commerce catalog includes everything from standard marketing collateral like business cards and brochures, to harder-to-find specialty, large format, and promotional products.

Our capabilities span gang run offset, digital, grand format, and promotional printing across six production facilities, staffed by experienced, committed operations teams. With locations across North America, state-of-the-art equipment such as powerful Incas and Scodix UV machines, and fast turnarounds, 4over offers our customers savings, selection, and scale. We serve large franchise printers, single print shops, print brokers, graphic designers, photographers, and every type of print reseller in between. Learn more at Trade.4over.com

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