Choosing the Right Paper for Your Print Job

September 26, 2016 Vincent Tran 0

Viewing a finished print project that is a result of hours of work and skill can be an exciting experience. Knowing that at every stage of creation and decision making, careful consideration has been given to choices that will result in the best finished product possible can make the experience satisfying and fulfilling.


When the stage is set for printing, there are many choices to be made. One of these choices would be the type of paper to choose for projects. For example, durability is to be considered for any Poster Printing. Often, a high quality printing company would provide some advice on what kind of paper would be optimal for your product. Some of these decisions can be made with simple common sense. Others may depend on considering factors such as expense, time, or availability.


To construct a framework for printing choices, the main purpose for the project is the first and most important factor to consider. What is it? A pamphlet, a poster, a list, a program booklet, a photo album? Will the pamphlet make an impression on groups? Will the poster advertise a weekend sale, a lost dog, a missing person? Is it a booklet for a year’s activities with printing on both sides of pages? Obviously each project will have different needs that should be determined in total at the beginning of the printing process.


With the word processor and printer now such an integral part of the office, printing companies have evolved and adapted to the changing work environment. Printing companies have moved towards increasing their printing capacity and provide quality printing products compared to the standard printing capabilities of the home office or work space. With a DIY project, it is still important that a visual examination be made in the selection of materials. Unless one is extremely experienced in recognizing weight characteristics, reflection, ink absorption, or durability, it is pertinent to work with samples of actual materials to find the right one for your needs. This may involve only standing in an aisle of available papers and holding up colors or comparing textures, or it may involve discussion and advice from printing experts of a local printing company.


Now that the importance of decision making at the beginning of the printing process has been determined, it is helpful to chart various paper types and how they best serve.



  • Evaluate cost
  • Number of photos
  • Quantity of print
  • Preference

COATED PAPER: (china clay, silk, or other) (Matte, semi-matte, silk, gloss)

Best for photos & Illustrations

  1. Ink is not absorbed by paper fiber so colors reflected are brighter.
  2. More coating, more brightness /more cost/more durability/Less dirt
  3. More difficult to read text.


Best for lots of text & Always cheaper than coated

  1. Easier to read text



The more durable the paper the more costly it will be but also more longer lasting it will be. Things to consider when determining durability would be to determine how important the document/project is and what your budget is.



The texture of the paper is something also to consider. A couple texture options would be:

  • Rough
  • Smooth
  • Flimsy
  • Solid

Costs vary depending on your texture preference.



This factor determines how transparent the paper will be. Below are a couple examples of the different transparancy levels.

100% (nontransparent) – No light will go through the paper and the print on one side will not show on the other side.

20% (transparency) – Light and print will show through the paper.

To determine the level of transparency, you should evaluate your project and what you wish to accomplish. One would think that 100% nontransparent paper would be a no brainer however, transparent paper have been used in the past for special dividers or effects.



On the technical level, brightness of the paper can be measured by the percentage of wave length reflected of the paper.

100% brightness would be eye catching but also more difficult to read as it effects the perception of certain colors printed on the paper.

It should be noted that most normal papers are between 60-90%. Again, it is important to evaluate the project to determine the brightness of the paper.



You will also need to determine if the paper needs to be acid free or not. Paper that is acid free do not yellow over time. A good example of non acid free paper are old books whose pages have turned yellow over time. Again, this varies on the project. Print jobs where the product that will be used for a single event and will not be kept in storage will not need to be acid free. However, if the print job is for books or booklets, you should check if the paper the project is being printed on is acid free to prevent the yellowing of the paper over time and therefore also preserving the work.



Colored paper usually more expensive than white paper. It is  important to consider the color paper vs the actually design. It wouldn’t be recommended to print black print on to dark colored paper as it would make it more difficult for people to read. However, having a different colored paper will help your paper stick out over the stack of regular white paper so it is also something to considering depending on what the project is.



Note has also been given with these printing choices as to how to determine decisions. Often, “preference” is stated which illustrates the importance of fresh artistic talent in the printing choice. The best for the project, with all things considered, should be the goal.


Since 1980 many companies have grown to meet the demanding need for high quality lithography in answer to new technology . In Southern California, The Dot Printer Co. expanded to become the Dot Corp, offering many additional marketing and graphic services. They provide many experts in the field to help solve problems and handle exceptional large printing projects. Often it is important to consider what local printing companies have available and at what price. New products are sometimes not yet on the open market, and prices can often be negotiated with a particular product in mind.


New technology, and new materials are all available in today’s printing world to help make the printing project the best experience possible. Careful choices and good planning are in the tool kit!

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