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One question which comes up time and time again is what paper stock to use for brochures but it just as easily applies to any type of document you are having printed.

This is a really interesting subject to talk about because the type of paper or card stock you choose will have a significant effect on how the reader perceives your message.

The look and feel of it in their fingers as they leaf through the document will trigger all kinds of subliminal messages. 

Whether those reactions are fair or not is irrelevant. If that’s how your prospective customer feels it can only help to understand a little more about the control you have over how your printed material stands out in the marketplace.

To drill down a little deeper into this question and try and look at it a little more technically there are three segments we should look at:

And these are:

1: Paper or Card weight.

2: Whether to choose Coated or Uncoated stock.

3: Paper Texture.

 

1: Paper or Card weight.

One of the first words the vast majority of customers talk about when handling different weights of paper is: Quality.

Technically, it a misunderstanding because there are many top grades of paper which come in a variety of different weights – typically from 80gsm up to 160gsm. It’s all top quality, but anyone comparing one printed item with another will, more often than not, comment that the item printed on heavier stock is better quality. So, it’s worth remembering this when you sit down with your printer and choose what weight of stock to use.

So, what does this look like out there in the real world?

If you were having 5,000 leaflets printed to promote a local charity event you’d typically use an economy paper - something like a lightweight 130gsm Silk or Gloss coated paper.

If, on the other hand, you were planning to print a short run of, say, 500 leaflets to promote a high-end Spa event you’d be looking at a much heavier weight of stock. Typically, this would be a 200gsm or 250gsm Silk or Gloss Coated card.

Yes, the cost for heavier stock is higher but the extra cost will be negligible because you need far fewer items. But, most importantly, the perception you want to create is that this is a high-end, high-quality quality item which will be in tune with both your target audience and their expectations of the event.

 

2: Whether to choose Coated or Uncoated stock.

I’ll be discussing coated stock in much more detail in one of our other guides but, in short, Coated Stock has a shiny or glossy finish to it.

Typically, mass-produced local event flyers and magazines use coated paper and there’s a very good reason for this: it is often the cheapest option.

Having said that, photographs and graphic images show up really well on coated stock. Colours are richer and more vibrant. And they are sharper too.

Uncoated stocks are just like the paper you use every day in the office copier or your desktop printer. These papers have a duller finish and colours will appear more muted.

So why use them?

Jamie Oliver was one of the first to use uncoated paper in his cookery books and he uses it because the pages have a lovely feel to them and the photographs take on a wonderful atmospheric quality which is all part of the plan. 

Marketeers adopting this approach are smart because they are using the type of paper to influence how the reader feels when reading and … interacting with their material. The paper type is all part of the user experience and if chosen wisely can have a significant effect on the reader and … how they perceive your message.

 

3: Paper Texture.

For the most part, paper and card stocks used in the majority of print runs will have a smooth finish to them.

Sure, some will be smoother than others but what we are talking about here are paper and cards with embossed finishes like laid or hammered effects.

The main reason that smooth papers are often the only option offered is cost, convenience and … technical capability.

The volume printing market in the UK today is built around economies of scale and speed of turnaround using a very small selection of paper types. The cost to printers of carrying a wide variety of additional and seldom used textured stocks is high. This, combined with the downtime associated with stopping and starting smaller jobs using specialist stocks only leads to higher costs.

The third hurdle to overcome with textured finishes is the ability of different printing presses to be able to cope with and lay down a good quality image which is acceptable to the customer.

In general, printing presses using wet ink are more able to press the ink into a textured surface than are digital presses. Although significant advances have been made by the big manufacturers as they grasp the importance of paper feel to the user.

However, all this talk about cost and convenience ignores one of the great advantages of using textures stocks which is the ability to offer the reader a dimension not offered in the digital space.

A number of factors come in to play as we read something. The message itself is obviously vital. As is the language used and how well the piece is designed. 

Coupled with this user experience is how the reader interacts with the printed piece as it is handled and read. An item printed on a paper or card with a luxurious or unusual finish will resonate at a deeper level and stick in the mind longer than something read on screen or printed on cheap everyday paper.

 

I hope this quick skim through has been helpful and thanks for dropping in,

 

But before you go …

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