Choosing Paper

A Compete Guide on Sending a Print Design to Press | Part Three

It’s been awhile, but here is part 3 of my series on Sending a Print Design to Press. If you missed the first two parts, we’ve covered Choosing the Right Type of Printing for your Design and Specing Colors For Your Printer so far and now — it’s time to think about paper.

For a quick and dirty print job that you may be sending out to a digital printer, chances are you will not have many choices where paper is concerned. But when you’re working with an Offset or Letteroress house, there are near endless possibilities — anyone who isn’t interested in paper would be shocked to know what a huge industry specialty papers are and you easily can (and I have) spend hours paroosing paper sample books feeling all the intesresting textures, marveling at the beautiful colors and weighing the benifits over all the various shades of white there are to choose from!

Organized Paper Samples by color, for Alithea

* WARNING: It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I realized just how complicated this subject is… i think it is something you just get comfortable with as you deal more with it.

Paper Weight

This is a complicated subject, which I will not even attempt to cover here – but there are some great resources out there to learn more about the systems for determining paper weight, (check out the Wikipedia page and its resource list.) I will break it down to the basics as I understand them, there are text weights and cover weights… within those broad categories, papers are defined by a weight.

Text Weight : This is thinner paper, you may use this for letterhead, catalogue pages, books pages… “80 pound text” would be something I might spec for a letterhead.

Cover weight: You guess it! You would use this for a book cover, business cards, postcard, stuff like that…  “110 pound cover” is something I might spec for a business card.

There are also other terms for these categories and different printers or paper manufactures may use variations, like the word writing instead of text.

Paper Samples

Aside from being porn for graphic designers, paper samples are going to make the job of choosing paper much easier. As time goes on, you will start to remember specific sheets you favor for different types of jobs – but having a variety of papers in front of you to look at and touch (and show your client!) is going to be invaluable!

So how do you get these? It’s easy — just ask! Call up your printer and get a referral to a paper respresentative in your area or do a Google search for a “paper distributor” in your city. Once you get a hold of them and let you know you are a designer they’ll get you sample books of the papers they distribute free of charge!

Paper Pricing and Usage (Get to know your Printer!)

I know I will talk about this more in part four of this series, but I think the relationship between a printer and a designer is very important. You need someone you can turn to for advise on projects who is knowledged in working with a large variety of papers and printing processes. No designer knows every single papers weight and sheet size and there is really no reason to waste your time with that type of stuff.

Talk to your printer as you develop the plan for your design and get their input on papers! They may know of a paper solution you weren’t aware of or if you are working within a budget they will be able to make recommendations to you that will bring the printing price down.

Do you have any tips on this subject? Leave a comment and share them with us! :)

Upcoming subjects in this series: Getting Estimates on printing and finishing, Getting a sign off on your print order, Reviewing a digital proof, Doing A Press check.