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Choosing the Best Paper Stock For Quality Color Printing

Maha Ahmed Maha Ahmed
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Choosing the best paper for printing your promotional, advertising, sales, and marketing literature can be confusing. What's the best paper for my business card, marketing postcards, flyers and brochures? What the difference between coated and uncoated papers? If you buy printing services you should know the answers to these questions.

There are lots of online printing services. Many offer different weight papers with different finishes as their standard "house" paper. It is not necessary for most print buyers to know how paper weights are figured. It is important for you to know which paper weight and finish to choose for the best possible quality printing.

The paper you choose determines the correctness of color, the brightness, the sharpness as well as the tactile (feel) of the final printed job. Choosing a light weight paper will probably cost a little less, but it will also feel cheap. If you are printing business cards, postcards, rack cards or anything requiring a card stock your best high quality coloring books choice for expressing high quality printing is heavy 14 pt or even heavier 16 pt card stock that is gloss coated on both sides. Coated stock is referred to as "C1S" meaning coated one side, C2S indicates the coating is on both sides. Coated paper is made with a finely polished clay. The advantage of clay coating is that the ink sits on top of the paper rather than, as with uncoated paper, where the inks is absorbed into the fiber. There are generally two type of coatings available- gloss and silk which is not a shiny as gloss. If a less glossy matte / dull finish is preferable then choose matte / dull aqueous coating. Since matte / dull coating does not reflect as much light as gloss UV it may be more appropriate for a more conservative presentation.

If you are printing cards and want the brightest, glossy printing you should choose glossy card stock with UV coating. UV coating is a liquid laminate that seals the ink underneath and protects the card from finger printing, scratching and scuffing. One word of warning, if you plan to mail or write one side of a postcard, it is best to choose UV coating on one side and no coating, matte or spot UV coating on the side use for mailing or writing. Gloss laminate UV coating makes it difficult to address, stamp or imprint.

If you are printing flyers, brochures, booklets or any promotional literature requiring a lighter quality paper then 100 LB gloss book weight is your best choice for a high quality printed look. This weight paper does not curl, has minimum show through and feels expensive, even though it's not. UV coating is also available for many projects requiring 100 LB gloss paper.

Most book weight papers are also available in a matching cover weights. If you would like a heavier paper than 100 LB gloss book weight but 14 or 16 Pt is too heavy or you need a stiffer cover on a multi-page booklet or catalog then your best choice is matching 100 LB cover weight.

There are certainly other good papers you can use, but these were chosen because they are the most common used by online gang run printers. Gang run printing is combining many jobs using the same paper and quantities on one large "parent" sheet with all participants sharing the cost of the press run. Paper stocks can be the hardest to shop for but you should invest a lot of time and thought into choosing your paper stock. Usually the most costly part of the printing job is the paper stock. Choosing the wrong paper stock can be costly and time consuming. Because of this, paper stock becomes an important factor when printing marketing materials and when considering what printing company to choose. Bottomline, remember although price is important, value is even more important.