Depending on what you are printing, you may want to use a specific type of paper to achieve your desired look. Here we’ll walk you through the different paper types for different printing jobs, and some important terms you may come across when purchasing your printing paper.
The first thing you need to know is that paper is graded according to certain factors, such as:
- GSM – GSM stands for Grams per Square Meter, and represents the thickness and weight measurement of a sheet of paper. The higher the GSM, the thicker the paper stock will be. When it comes to printing something out, it’s important to consider the paper GSM required. For example, if you wanted to do some print outs for an event then you wouldn’t need a paper with a high GSM. However if you were printing wedding invitations or business cards, for example, you would want to invest in a more durable, thicker paper stock with a higher GSM. It has also been established that the higher the GSM, the more luxurious the paper.
- Brightness – This measures how white and ‘bright’ the paper is. The higher the brightness, the better the contrast between the ink and the paper. The brightness scale when it comes to paper ranges from 1 to 100, 80 being the lowest commercial grade. Premium printing paper is usually around the 96 to 97 mark.
- Opacity – This refers to how easily light is able to pass through the paper. Most paper is slightly translucent so you can see what’s on the other side when you hold it up to a light source. If you plan on printing double sided, then it’s best to purchase a paper with a higher opacity. In most cases, the more premium the printing paper the higher the opacity.
- Texture – The texture of the paper is also referred to as the surface or smoothness and will determine not only the look but the feel of the paper. The texture of paper can either be described as smooth or slick, matte, silk, pebbled, or grained. For use in inkjet and laser printers, paper with a smoother texture works best.
Different paper types
There are many different types of paper, and depending on what you are printing you’ll want to consider the different kinds available before making a decision.
- Glossy paper – This paper is characterised by a gloss finish, and is generally used for printing photographs as it’s great for producing sharp colours. Be careful handling glossy paper after printing an image, as it’s very easy to smudge and can take longer to dry. There’s also a glossy paper that is specifically designed for printing images known as photo paper. This paper shouldn’t be used for printing anything else.
- Matte paper – Matte paper has a specific white coating on it that ensures ink dries quickly. This paper is best for everyday use.
- Bright white paper – This general use printing paper can be printed on both sides. Because it is so bright, it’s great for printing out lengthy text documents and even for colour printing because the ink stands out brilliantly.
- Card – Card stock is the heaviest, most durable paper you can buy. Because it is thicker, it does take longer to go through the printer. It’s mostly used for invitations, post cards, and signage.
Knowing a little bit about the different types of paper and what they are best used for will help you make an informed decision the next time you need to purchase paper for a particular printing job.