Important Factors in Paper Choice

There are a few big decisions that go into any major printing project, and one of the first regards paper attributes and qualities. The modern printing industry allows for numerous different paper types and qualities to be used for a variety of reasons, and knowing which to choose for your project can go a long way to determining its success.

At Sun Print Solutions, we can assist you with all questions or concerns related to paper choice. Our offset printing services can coordinate with a wide variety of paper types, finishes and thicknesses depending on your needs. Let’s look at some of the key factors involved in choosing paper.

important factors paper choice

Paper Thickness

Paper thickness may seem like a complex subject since most paper is very thin, but this is actually not the case. Paper is measured in thousandths of inches, which are termed “points” in the printing industry for simpler conversations. As such, 14pt paper will be 0.014 inches thick. Generally, this term is used to describe the various cover stock options used for a type of material.

Paper Weight

Paper weight, however, is actually the more complex measure here. In fact, there are actually a few different weight formats you might see used when referring to paper:

  • Stacks: In many cases, the number you see for choosing paper weight refers to stacks of standard pieces, not a single sheet. Standard printer paper you use every day, for instance, is usually 20# bond weight or 50# text. Heavier items like cardstock can range up to 90# or 100# and may have other terms like index or cover.
  • Grams per square meter: Abbreviated GSM.
  • Separate weights: In other cases, paper weight is separated by thickness and sturdiness of paper, rather than just overall weight.

If you’re confused about how any of this works, our printing experts can explain it to you and help you choose the right weight for your needs.

Coating and Finishing Concerns

When it comes to paper finishing, there are two choices:

  • Matte: Matte finish makes pieces appear softer and lighter.
  • Gloss: Gloss makes for brighter colors and sharper images.

In addition, there are three primary coating options available:

  • Varnish: Applied at press, or can be spot-applied
  • Aqueous: Water-based and applied over the entire piece
  • UV: Cured using ultraviolet light, which produces the toughest material


Finally, you have to consider the opacity of your paper, or its transparency. The higher the number in terms of opacity, the less transparent paper is – cardstock, for example, is 100 percent opaque because you cannot se through it at all. On the other end of the spectrum would be a material like tracing paper, which is closer to 0 percent opaque.

For more on choosing the right paper for your project, or to learn about any of our digital printing or direct mail services, contact the pros at Sun Print Solutions today.

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