The paper you use is a critical factor in the appearance of your printed projects. For most of our products, Castle Press has suggested paper options to those most popular for the usage. There are hundreds of different paper brands, colors and weights available depending on the budget for your project.
There are three attributes that differentiate papers from one another: finish, weight and opacity.
Finish refers to the texture, feel and appearance of the surface of a sheet paper. The most common finishes are defined below:
Coated: Paper with a layer of clay added to the surface that gives it a waxy finish on both sides. (Ranging from matte, to dull and gloss finishes)
Coated One Side: A cover stock that has a gloss finish on one side and is uncoated on the reverse side.
Uncoated: A paper with an untreated surface that is unreflective and has a soft feel.
Wove: A smooth uncoated surface.
Laid: A paper that is manufactured with textured lines on its surface. This finish is used mostly for business stationery elements, like letterhead, envelopes and business cards.
Linen: Similar to a laid finish, the paper has textured lines that are embossed into the sheet which appears to have a cloth cross hatch pattern on the surface of the sheet. This paper is also used frequently for business stationery.
Laser: Paper which is guaranteed to be compatible with laser printers.
The weight of a paper refers to its basis weight (a measurement used the industry to categorize paper) measured in pounds. A common misconception is that the higher the number in pounds the thicker the paper. This is not always true because paper thickness is also determined by its type (cover versus book). For example 80 pound gloss cover will always be thicker than 100 pound gloss book. When using a particular paper for the first time it is best to request a paper dummy as part of the planning process.
The opacity of paper is determined by its thickness, ingredients (such as fillers) and ink absorbency. Opacity is important because it affects how much printing will show through from the reverse side of a sheet. Most printing projects’ budgets cannot afford 100% opaque paper. There are, however, design techniques that will improve the visual appearance and minimize show-through. Papers with a high degree of opacity are better able to prevent dark images from showing through a page. Opacity is expressed in terms of percentage of light that is transmitted through it. Complete opacity is 100% and complete transparency is 0%. Click here for the paper opacity guide.
There are generally three types of papers for three distinct purposes: text papers, bond or writing papers and cover papers.
Also known as offset papers, can have a coated or uncoated finish. These thinner, lightweight papers are often used for publication interiors, sell sheets and other marketing collateral. Below is a brief description of some of the most common book weights, from lightest to heaviest:
50 pound - Available in offset, opaque and coated variants
60 pound - Available in offset, opaque and coated variants
70 pound - Available in offset, opaque and coated variants
80 pound - Available mostly in opaques and coated variants
100 pound - Available mostly as a coated sheet
Bond or Writing
Bond or writing papers are used for letterhead (very often contain watermarks) and must be able to run through office copy machines and laser printers. The most commonly recognized bond or writing stocks are:
20 pound - Equivalent to 50# book (generally your “copier” type paper)
24 pound - The preferred weight for most business papers like letterheads. (similar in weight and thickness to 60# book papers) Most of the watermarked paper will be this basis weight.
Cover stocks are heavy in weight, rigid and require scoring to minimize cracking when folded. These papers are generally used for publication covers, business cards and postcards. They can have coated or uncoated finishes. Common weights for cover stocks include:
65 pound - Available mostly in uncoated finishes
80 pound - Available in coated and uncoated finishes
100 pound - Available mostly in coated finishes
12 point – Board grade paper (tends to be thicker and stiffer than their cover counterparts) that is ideal for postcards and pocket folders.
Generally, gloss, dull and matte coated papers are used for brochures, product sheets, catalogs, posters, postcards and four-color business cards. Uncoated stock is best for pieces when a soft tactile feel is desired such as booklet covers, and business cards.
Following are the papers specifically offered for the standard printing products.
70, 80 and 100 pound gloss text
Standard gloss paper stock with a shiny finish that provides an excellent opaque base for rich process color printing. A gloss sheet should be used when there is a predominance of photos and a minimum amount of text. The shine of the paper creates glare which makes reading difficult.
70, 80 and 100 pound dull text
Dull coated paper stock has less sheen than the gloss yet prints photos very well. This paper is recommended when there large amount of text as well as photos. You want your photos to print well and at the same time not have so much reflection that it is difficult to read. A satin AQ coating is recommended to seal the printed sheet.
70, 80 and 100 pound matte text
Matte papers are coated but have less coating and calendaring during the paper making process. The primary advantage to this sheet is that it is thicker at the comparable weight. It prints very well and is recommended for newsletter or magazine type publications. Coating is an absolute must for this paper with satin AQ coating providing the best result.
80, 100, and 120 pound gloss cover
Eye-catching, heavier glossy paper stock used for brochures, booklet covers and business card.
24 pound Classic Writing Papers
Available in many finishes such as smooth, wove, linen, laid and eggshell. Classic papers are also available with cotton content. A great sheet to use for your stationary needs.
80 pound Classic Covers
Match your letterhead and envelopes with the cover stock for your business cards.
60 and 70 pound Accent Opaque Offset
Another alternative for stationery elements. Accent has a long-standing reputation for high quality reproduction and excellent printability. Its superior opacity and extremely bright white color makes inks appear to jump off the page.
80 pound Accent Opaque Cover
Match your letterhead and envelopes with the cover stock for business cards.
24 and 28 pound White Wove
A standard commercial grade paper stock often used for envelopes. 24# is used for most envelopes, but 28# is used for larger envelopes and greater durability.
12 point C1S or C2S Board
A basic white, coated cover stock sturdy enough to stand up to the wear and tear of postcards and pocket folders.
Note: If you require a paper option not included on this list for your project, give us a call and we will meet your needs.
Paper Opacity Guide
FSC® Certified and Recycled Paper
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