If you’re not familiar with the printing industry, knowing how to read paper weights can be a headache. I mean, it is not as easy to understand as thin, thick and extra thick. Instead, you are given options such as 100# cover, 100# text, 16 point cover and 360 GSM. And no, 100# cover and 100# text are not the same. The weight of the paper ultimately describes how thick the sheet is. However, even if a paper is 100#, the difference between a cover and a text sheet can be huge.

Confused yet? Stay with me…

The best way to describe paper weight is to think of it in terms of a particular item. For instance, think of flyers, table tents, posters, invitations and business cards. Each item has a particular feeling to it, right? Absolutely. Flyers tend to be flimsy, table tents are sturdy so they stand on the table, posters have a little thickness to them, invitations are pretty thick (the good kind) and business cards in general can get crazy. But, nevertheless we can all agree that the paper used for the piece is different. Now, thick on a business card being on the same paper as a flyer.

If you are like me, you would like one look at the business card and be like “what the heck is this?”. This is because no one wants a flimsy business card that is going to get crushed in a drawer or someone’s pocket. I mean, business cards are supposed to make a statement, right? That statement is made with your paper weight choice.

Here are 3 tips on how paper weight can affect your printing.

Learn What Paper Your Printer Can Handle

If you are printing in-house, first you need to make sure what weight of paper your printer can handle in the first place. If you are using a little copier on your desk, the thickness of your paper can be limited. For instance, on a standard HP office printer, you can get away with using cardstock you get from Staples. Cardstock is typically in the 12 point range in terms of paper weight. This weight is great for invitations or fancy flyers. When you get into anything thicker, unfortunately these small printers are not able to handle it. But, that doesn’t mean you are out-of-luck.

If you are looking for a nice thick paper stock to make a statement, I highly recommend checking out 16pt or 18pt papers. If you are feeling adventurous, check out the double stacked paper options that have a color visible on the rim of the card. My creative juices are dancing just thinking of it. Anyway, these paper weights are traditional for items such as postcards and business cards. For these special types of paper weights, you’re going to want to work with a trusted printer.

PRO TIP: Work with a printer who has a swatch book so you can actually see and FEEL the paper weight you want to run with. At Tepsi, we have a ton of swatches from covers, text, specialty, textures and synthetics that are at your disposal.

Thicker Weight, Bigger Impact

Like my analogy above, there are particular weights of papers that should be used for particular print collateral. Paper weight is important to consider because it makes a statement. For your business card, you want that baby to be sturdy, impactful, vibrant, professional and a clear representation of your brand. I mean, if you hand someone a flimsy business card, what does that say about your company? The choices you make with the paper weight of your collateral can make an impact on someone’s buying decisions. For instance, Apple never fails to disappoint in the paper world. From their selection of white paper bags, their packaging to their signage, every print was carefully selected to make the biggest impact. After all, it’s all about the experience, right?

At the same point, it is important to remember that there should be a reason behind the thickness of the stock. Because, lets face it, a thick flyer can be a smidge over the top. Knowing when and how to use the thicker paper weights is important.

PRO TIP: Save the thicker paper weights for items such as business cards, invitations and postcards.

Keep a Cheat-Sheet

Paper weights can be a headache to remember, especially when you get into the pounds, points and GSM readings. And this isn’t even bringing in the options of plain, silk, dull, matte or gloss! However, with a little cheat-sheet you’ll be able to master the world of paper in no time. At Tepsi, we keep a running list of all of our favorite paper weights and stocks with the print collateral we used it for. This allows for easy re-ordering and knowing exactly what to expect once it is printed. You can also order your own swatch books from a variety of paper companies or even stop by your local print shop to check out their supply.

PRO TIP: Always opt in for those freebie swatch books, they are the BEST and will show you exactly what to expect!

Happy Printing!