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Choose the right paper with 10 simple questions

Posted 26th September 2014

Choose the right paper with 10 simple questions

Why spend a princely sum on a great design only to present it on unsuitable stock? Here’s our 10 questions to ensure you pick the perfect paper.

The right paper choice can make or break your project either enhancing the design or diminishing it to an ineffective piece of print. With paper stock often making up around 30% of the overall cost of a printed project, it’s not something to be considered lightly.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a universal paper for all occasions, you need to pick the one right for your specific project. This usually becomes a balancing act between function, quality and cost. If you take the time to think about your project at the start, it can make the process of choosing a paper stock a lot easier:

1. What’s the printed item for?

Different items will require papers with different qualities. A business card will have very different needs to a flyer.

2. How long will it be around for?

Items such as flyers and newsletters have a short lifespan and so can be made from cheaper quality paper. Items such as books and corporate folders will be around longer and need to be made from better wearing materials.

3. What is the content?

Different types of paper are better for different types of content. For instance, if you are showing lots of large format photographs, a coated paper will give you brighter colours and a glossy finish. A magazine or a book may be served better with an uncoated paper, as they reflect less light than a coated paper stock and increase legibility.

4. Is it a book or a brochure?

Often with books and brochures, the cover will be a thicker stock for durability whilst the inside pages are thinner. In these cases you may need to have more than one paper choice!

5. Where is the item going?

Are you creating a leaflet that is standing up in a display rack? Then you may need a sturdier paper stock to give the item some rigidity. If you are posting out flyers, a lighter weight paper stock will be cheaper to post.

6. Do you need to write on it?

Sounds like a strange question but if you have a detachable form or an area for writing notes, it could have an impact on whether you use a coated or an uncoated paper. Coated papers as the name suggests have a coating applied to the top to give it a glossy finish. The coating can make it harder to write on with certain pens.

7. What feeling do you want the reader to have?

Your choice of paper stock can make a big impact on the way your product will be received. A light weight glossy paper can come across as cheap whereas a heavy weight silk coated paper would feel luxurious and expensive. Uncoated paper stocks can be seen as environmentally friendly, textured and coloured papers can appear elegant, traditional and majestic.

You can couple your paper choice with printing techniques such as embossing’s and foils to make your product even more magnificent.

8. Does it feel right?

How the item feels is an important factor. The weight of the paper, and the chosen coating can have a big first impression on your audience. The only way to really tell is with hands on experience. If you wish to know more, please get in touch with us to request paper samples or to discuss your project with a professional.

9. Are you helping the environment?

A lot of people feel that an uncoated paper comes across as environmentally friendly as it doesn’t feel as artificial. The good news at Swallowtail Print is that we have been awarded FSC accreditation. Our customers can request that the FSC branding be included on their materials. It demonstrates a continued chain of custody from forest to consumer, ensuring that the paper used has been produced from managed sustainable sources.

The inclusion of the FSC logo on your materials will reassure your customers and colleagues that the forests from which your paper stocks are sourced are managed to the highest possible environmental standards. The final label on the product also has a code to prove that the item is genuinely FSC.

More information about FSC can be found on the following websites:

10. Is it good value?

Obviously a major factor! Ultimately, good value depends on what your product is and the audience it’s for. Swallowtail Print’s goal is to provide the best quality with excellent service at a competitive price so hopefully we are always good value!

At Swallowtail Print we offer the complete printing solution, from catalogues, magazines, manuals and calendars to brochures, leaflets and stationery. In fact, we can print almost anything, from a single black and white business card to a million full-colour mailers on any paper stock you can think of!

If you’d like more help and advice on selecting the right paper for your project, please get in touch.


Image: Nikki Burton  |