Important Factors in Paper Selection

When it comes to any printing that involves it, paper is one of the most important considerations you’ll have to think about. There are numerous paper choices out there for any of your printed materials, with varying options in terms of weight, coating, brightness, opacity and more.

At Sun Print Solutions, we can help with all your paper needs and questions for any of our offset printing, direct mail or other printing services. We can help you break down all the different qualities of paper, plus which you want to prioritize for your next printing project. Let’s look at several important areas related to your paper quality and measurements.

factors paper selection


Paper is obviously not too thick generally, and as such, it’s measured using thousands of inches. These are also called “points” in the paper industry, abbreviated pt. Paper listed at 16pt, for instance, is .016 inches thick.

Thickness is less commonly used than weight, which we’ll get to in a moment, but you’ll commonly see it used for describing cover stock types. Think of a business card, for instance, which generally is crafted on stock ranging from 12pt to 14pt.


Weight is a bit more complex, including both thickness and sturdiness – but it’s also more commonly used and more informative. It refers to the thickness and sturdiness of the paper based on what a standard-sized stack of pieces would weigh, using the “#” symbol for these measurements. Standard printer paper, for instance, is generally 20# bond weight, while something thicker like cardstock or cover stock will be between 90# and 100#. Weight might also be expressed in grams per square meter, and may be separated into two separate measures. Ask our pros if you have any further questions here.


Opacity is the opposite of transparency, and it’s an important factor when it comes to paper choice. Certain cardstock and other paper items will be fully opaque, meaning you cannot see through it to the other side at all. Other paper forms, though, are much more transparent – completely sheered paper can be 0 percent opaque, even. Vellum and tracing paper are examples of extremely non-opaque options. For two-sided printing projects of any kind, you want highly opaque paper types that will not bleed through to the other side whatsoever.


There are three coating types available for paper:

  • Varnish: Applied at pressing, but can also be spot-applied

  • Aqueous: A water-based coating applied over the entire printed piece

  • UV: Cured with a UV light to give off excellent luster and withstand rough packaging or treatment

You’ll also have finishing options in either matte or gloss – the former softens printed pieces aesthetically, while the latter makes color and images appear brighter and sharper.

For more on important paper qualities to be aware of, or to learn about any of our digital printing services, speak to the pros at Sun Print Solutions today.

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