All Paper Isn’t Created Equal


Paper is a complicated subject. From the weight through to the size, quality and type, paper selection requires more consideration than you might first think. Depending on the task in hand, the choice of paper has a huge influence on the calibre of the finished product.

The following is an easy to understand guide that will change the way you think about paper – forever!

Paper 101: The basics

Before we get into the intricacies of paper selection, it’s first necessary to understand a little about its attributes: Namely, weight, size, and type.

  • Paper weights explained: This is measured in grams per square metre (gsm), with average qualityprinting paper being 70 gsm. Such paper is generally used for day-to-day printing. Higher weights, such as 90 gsm, provide a more professional finish. You can also find heavier weights, such as 163 gsm, 216 gsm and even 270 gsm, that are more akin to card and can be used for applications like booklet covers.
  • Paper sizes explained: Typically described by terminology A0, A1, A2, A3 etc. The higher the number, the smaller the size. A4 is the most common size of printer paper.
  • Paper types explained: Paper is designed for certain uses, such as for inkjet or laser printers. The former is more porous and contains chemicals to speed up the drying time of the ink. The latter is designed to allow the ink to fuse to the paper.
  • Another aspect is that of grain direction, which is how the individual grains are organised. Grain Long means they run parallel with the longest edge of the paper and Grain Short with the shortest. While this doesn’t have too much bearing on plain, everyday 70 or 75 gsm paper, it does when it comes to heavier weights. Printing and folding along the grain help reduce paper jams and misfeeds within printers, and folds are much smoother.
  • Paper smoothness determines the paper’s suitability for higher print resolution and image quality.This is measured using the Sheffield Scale, with multipurpose paper coming in at around 150. The higher the number, the rougher the paper.
  • Paper can also be found in coated and uncoated in options. Normal paper is uncoated, whereas glossy or satin paper has a coating to give the required finish.

Choosing the Right Paper

Now that you understand the complexities of the humble piece of paper, it becomes clear that different typ

es are suitable for different applications. Some examples of what to consider includes:

  1. What are you producing? Literature needs to make a certain impression, be it that of high-end luxury, functionality or perhaps that of environmental concern. In other words, you should consider the personality of the printed piece, as paper type directly influences this.
  2. Consider the colour: White is no longer simply just white – it addresses the brightness as well. Whether you need the brightest tone will be determined by what you’re printing. The brighter the quality, the more expensive the paper.
  3. Choose your finish: Glossy or matte, silk, coated or uncoated… There are many decisions to be taken and will be directed by the use of colour, ink, and the message/s being conveyed.
  4. Select the right weight: Letters generally require a different weight paper than that of brochures. A heavier weight is often associated with luxury, and if you’re printing double-sided then a slightly heavier than average paper weight will prevent unwanted show-through.

These are just a selection of what needs to be thought about when deciding on paper needs. For any printed pr

oject, it’s vital to consider the paper type early on in the process. Careful choices lead to the most cost-effective options. With different types of paper ranging in price quite dramatically, this can represent a significant difference in the total expenditure.

You should also take your printer capability into account when selecting paper. Using the right type for the job reduces the likelihood of issues, such as paper jams or less than perfect quality copies.

For the best advice on copiers, printers, scanners and MFDs, Perth-based Advanced Document Solutions have been the go-to source for Western Australia’s businesses for close to three decades. Find out more at or give their friendly team a call on 08 9443 5557.