• Jonathan White

Paper’s potential

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Unleash the tactile tiger, rather than keeping him all caged up! Whilst choosing your paper, why not consider ‘pushing the envelope’ a little further by employing an extra finishing technique? Processes such as die cutting, folding, lamination, spot varnishes, embossing (raised) or debossing (recessed), and various bindings can all add value, helping your business to stand out from the crowd.



Paper over the cracks


Failure to carefully consider the paper stock for your print based campaign, is like trying to make something look better on the surface, but not dealing with any real underlying issues. You would always organise a plasterer, before hiring a decorator to hang that expensive ‘designers guild’ wallpaper? The choice of paper stock should ideally be discussed with all stakeholders, certainly before any creative is signed off and heading to the printers!


However tight the brief, and however restricting the budget, time taken to source the perfect paper stock is generally rewarding, and always enhances the end result. The sheen, colour, texture and weight of the paper stock all play an important part in influencing the decision. A high gloss paper can literally add gloss to a fashion magazine, contrastingly an uncoated paper, could hint at an air of refinement on a annual report.

Avoid nasty paper cuts!


Please take a couple of minutes to read through the paper tricks below, and add the sense of touch to your company’s printed materials:


1. Paper tigers - tearing paper myths apart


The first sheets of paper were made in China around 200BC, produced from the pulp of boiled rags, tree bark or grasses. The first paper-like substance (papyrus) was invented by the Egyptians over 6,000 years ago! Today most paper manufacturers use wood pulp from pine, spruce and fir trees. Despite the advent of the digital revolution, world consumption of paper has grown by 400% in the past 40 years.

2. Paper chains - linking the main paper types

  • ‘Coated’ Gloss/Gloss art papers offer the highest quality reproduction in terms of detail, and ink sits on top of the smooth surface paper allowing for quick drying.

  • ‘Coated’ Silk/Satin papers offer good opacity, better durability and their non-reflective surface enhances legibility. They can be prone to slight ink rub because of the unevenness of the surface.

  • ‘Uncoated’ papers offer high opacity, even more durability than coated papers, and don’t crack along folds. However the less smooth surface can be prone to ink rub, and colours look a little flatter than on coated stocks because of their absorbency.

3. Green papers - recycled v FSC stocks


Recycled paper is made from waste paper. The process spares new trees from being felled and transported to the mill, thus using less energy. Choosing to use recycled paper is an ethical issue, and down to either personal or company attitudes towards Corporate Social Responsibility. Recycled paper reduces landfill and places less strain on global forest resources. For further information on the Recycling process click here


The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organisation founded in 1993 to protect the world’s forests. It is their job to ensure that forests are managed to protect wildlife habitats and respect the rights of local communities. The FSC database holds a global list of certified printers. For further information about the environmental, social, and commercial reasons to buy FSC click here



4. Paper lanterns - lighting the way


Made of paper, the lantern is the main focus of attention of the celebration as it symbolizes the wish for a bright future. The Chinese believe that while red is a symbol of happiness, gold is a symbol of wealth. Earliest data shows the art of creating of paper lanterns started in China around 230 BC. More recently, the lanterns serve another purpose, that of advertising in the form of lighted signage particularly in cities in Eastern Asia and in ‘Chinatown’ neighborhoods worldwide, where they are commonly found as part of the decorative marketing of restaurants and shops.

5. Paper weight - GSM v UM values


The weight of paper stock is measured in GSM, an abbreviation for Grams per Square Metre. A typical photocopier paper for example would be 80gsm, a letterhead might be 100gsm, a postcard stock would be about 250gsm and business cards might be printed on 350-400gsm board.


The thickness of a particular paper stock, is measured in Microns (UM) or 1/000mm. The weight of a single sheet is calculated based upon the total weight of 500 sheets ‘a ream’ of paper. Thicker papers are more opaque, which helps to reduce ‘show-through’ when printing on both sides of the sheet.

Design work that brings the flavour. #paper #stock #design #marketing

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