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How To Choose the Best Printing Paper for the Job

Does the question of which printing paper to use feel a little redundant?

After all, paper is paper, right?

Well, if you’re in an office and you’re sending off a few documents to the printer for Tracy in HR to file away then you’re totally right. It really makes very little difference. 

However, the fact that there is a such an array of paper options means that there has to be an array of uses. Shall we look into that?

The Three Elements of Printing Paper

Printing paper can be categorised by looking at the three main factors which will dictate their best use. 

Brightness

Have you ever considered the brightness of your paper? Probably not. 

However, paper is graded on a scale of 0-100 (US) in terms of its brightness, with 100 being the brightest. Most good quality printing paper should come in at around the mid-90s.

While you would think that the brighter the paper, the better, this isn’t always the case. When printing photographs, professionals would notice that softer hues in the image can be washed out by a too-bright paper. Whereas paper lower on the scale may negatively impact deeper tones and reduce their sharpness. 

Shade

On the surface, a ream of white paper is – well – white. But for those of us who have, for example, bought a light bulb, the light coming from it can be warm or cold, or even bluish. 

In the same way, printing paper can come in shades of white. Warmer, creamier shades offer a softer look, while those higher on the blue spectrum tend to absorb warmer tones and reflect a sharper image. 

Weight

Paper weight is probably the most easily recognised factor in choosing the right printing paper. 

Measured in GSM (grams per square meter) this defines the thickness of paper. We already know that a letterhead would be on a heavier weight paper, but day-to-day printing allows for a lighter weight which is easier to file and gentler on the printer. 

For all your mailing, printing and copying needs, we’d like to encourage you to contact the friendly team at Mailmech. We’re here for you. 

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