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How to Choose the Best Paper Weight for Your Print Campaign

There are a lot of decisions you’ll need to make leading up to the launch of your next print marketing campaign. While it’s easy to focus on your branding elements, fonts, and so on, there’s something else that’s equally important: the paper weight.

Having the right weight for your paper not only looks professional, but it can help you send the right message to your customers. Each project has different needs, and this isn’t a one-size-fits-all discussion. In this guide, we’ll help you determine how to choose the best paper weight for your print campaign.

How Is Paper Weight Determined?

There’s a lot of confusion around paper weight in relation to print campaigns. Most likely you’ve already experienced how different types of paper have different weights. Some are simply heavier than others, and they also have different finishes.

Most of today’s print campaigns use one of these paper types:

  1. Card stock (in 16pt or 18pt)

  2. 50/60/70 lb uncoated paper

  3. 80/100 lb gloss or matte paper

These types of papers can be used for a variety of things, and there are different methods for specifying weight and thickness. The most common method is the U.S. Basic Weight. This is defined as the weight of 500 sheets of paper in its uncut size. Paper weight affects the price of your print marketing project as well as the final outcome, so don’t overlook this decision.

Consider the Type of Project

The most important thing to consider when deciding on your paper weight is the type of project. If you’re creating business cards, it’s common to use a thicker cardstock material. On the other hand, a flyer or brochure usually calls for a thinner, coated or uncoated paper.

Paper is made from more than just wood. Specialty papers are made from cloth or synthetic fibers, and some are more eco-friendly than others. It’s easy to see how this can become a complicated decision if you’re not careful. For example, with 27 million business cards printed every day, you’ll want to make sure your paper stands out.

In general, cardstock is reserved for projects that need to be stronger, like business cards, mailed flyers, postcards, and so on. For multi-page brochures or discount flyers that don’t last a long time, a thinner 50 or 60 lb paper will do the job.

Coated vs. Uncoated

Another important question is between coated and uncoated paper. Any paper stock is either coated or uncoated, and there are different finishes for these papers. In general, they’re as follows:

  1. Coated: Coated paper is covered with a material, usually hardened clay, that helps display any text and visuals. It sharpens the detail on the pag.e It can either be a non-shiny coating (matte) or shiny (gloss).

  2. Uncoated: Uncoated has nothing covering the natural fibers of the paper, so it appears smooth, like printer paper. It’s the easiest to write on, but the image won’t be as sharp.

Which is best for you? Again, it depends on the project. Coated paper is usually best for business cards, postcards, catalogs, and brochures. On the other hand, uncoated is best for newsletters, inexpensive flyers, and stationery.

Storage, Mailing, and More

Last but not least, you’ll need to ask yourself a few practical questions. Most print marketing campaigns involve some sort of direct mail, passing out materials, or displaying signage. This means you need something up for the challenge. To help make your final decision, consider what conditions your paper will be exposed to. For example, is it going to be mailed? If so, you’ll need to make sure it’s strong enough to survive handling, but it’s also thin enough to avoid exceeding mail weight limits.

In addition, where will your paper be stored? If you think it’ll be exposed to the outdoors, heat, or rain, you’ll need a paper that’s resistant to the elements. Coatings can offer a bit of resistance for water and ice.

Finally, do you plan to write on this paper or do you want customers to write on it? Using a coated, highly-textured paper will make it difficult to write on. You’ll want uncoated paper that’s strong enough to withstand the pressure of writing. All of these questions should lead you to the perfect paper weight for your needs.

Order Your Print Materials Today

Whether you’re a real estate agent or you work online, there are so many valid reasons to invest in print marketing. Making sure your print materials stand out against the crowd is key, and this can be done by choosing the right weight for your paper. Since you’re likely not a paper weight expert yourself, let the guide above help you make the right decision.

When in doubt, consult with the experts. Your printing service will have the know-how to assist with this process, and they’ll be the one most familiar with your specific needs.

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