How to chose the right paper for your next print job…

The choices of paper are vast and we understand that choosing the right weight, colour and finish for your print job can be quite confusing. There are some basic terms that we use in the print industry when it comes to paper and so we created this no nonsense guide to help you.


GSM or paper weight

GSM stands for ‘grams per square metre’. Quite simply the higher the GSM number then the heavier and thicker the paper will be.

To give you an idea, in your printer at home you will probably have 90gsm to 100gsm.

Newspapers are printed on thinner 35gsm to 55gsm and your average poster is around 120gsm to 140gsm.

If you’re looking for a premium flyer then asking for 210gsm to 240gsm will give you a thick paper stock which is able to be bent slightly but very resilient. Most magazine covers will fall into this category.

Finally, over 350gsm is then card and is the stock most business cards are printed on.


Paper opacity

The higher the opacity then the less you’ll be able to see through the paper and this is rated on a 1 to 100 scale. The more opaque the sheet of paper then the less light shows through and the less printing on the reverse or the following page will show through.


Paper strength

The moisture content, coating and thickness of the paper stock you choose will have an effect on the paper strength, or to put it another way, how easy it is to tear. The stronger the paper then the more resilient it will be when it comes to handling by the end user.


Paper brightness

Paper brightness is a measurement, on a scale of 0 to 100, of the amount of light reflected from the surface of a paper. Coated stocks will give off more brightness and be higher on that scale.


Paper texture

Some more common textures used are…

  • Smooth – a smooth uncoated surface.
  • Coated – this is a paper with a shiny or matt waxy finish.
  • Uncoated – this paper is unreflective.
  • Coated One Side – also referred to as C1S, this is a stock that has coating on one side and not on the reverse, as the name suggests. This is often used for book covers or catalogues.
  • Coated Two Sides (C2S) – a cover stock that has coating on both sides.
  • Laid – this is a paper that has textured lines on its surface and is less common and quite expensive.
  • Linen – this is a more delicate version of a laid paper, the lines are finer and more regular however. This is equally rare and also quite expensive.

When it comes to choosing paper, most printers will be happy to supply samples and of course at Severn we are always on hand to advise you on the best stock for your print job from our vast experience.