Does Paper Quality Really Matter?


Francis Atterbury, partner or Hurtwood Press, puts it like this. "If you want to produce good work, you really do have to print on good quality paper. It's a terrible error to think that all papers are the same."

But why does the quality of your paper matter so much?

Remember, print engages the senses. Particularly, the sense of touch sets print apart from digital material. Our brains subconsciously gather information about products through our sense of touch. Consequently, the quality of the paper says something about the quality of the product.

But does this mean that all of your printed projects need to be on fancy expensive paper? No! There are many things to consider to determine what quality of paper is best for your next printed project.

Function vs. Quality

Before choosing your paper quality of paper, there are several questions you should ask yourself:

  • What are your financial limitations? - Don't break the bank on paper quality. Though it's important to use good quality paper, it often isn't necessary to invest in the most expensive highest paper quality.
  • How long do you want this product to last? - Is this a product expected to last several years? If so, a higher quality paper will be more durable and worth the investment. If the product is only supposed to last a day (and might even get thrown away) then it's better to invest in low quality paper.

Paper quality is important, but it isn't the only factor to consider when designing your print project.

Measuring Quality - Coated vs. Uncoated

Papers can be coated in a variety of materials, from thick , shinning gloss, to dull matte. Coated papers are heavier and glossier, making them ideal to use for high quality, photo based images. Why? That extra layer of coating on the paper makes it so that the ink doesn't sink into the paper, creating brighter colors.

Comparatively, black and white products (such as the pages of a text book) don't require vivid colors, and are therefore more cost effective when printed on matte.

Keep in mind that uncoated papers aren't always cheaper than coated. Weight and thickness play a part in price as well.

Measuring Quality - Weight and Thickness:

Typically, a "paper weight" (often represented by a #), directly relates to the thickness and stiffness of the paper. The higher the paper weight, the higher the quality. For example -

  • 20-24# = Standard paper
  • 24-28# = Ordinary posters
  • 80-100# = Business cards

At Alexander's we have a variety of weights and thicknesses in a plethora of styles, textures and materials.

Not sure what paper weight will work best for your next project? Contact us, and we'll help you find the paper quality that will make your project most successful.

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