Printing is more than reproducing words and images on paper. It is physical
experience itself - holding the piece, feeling the paper, the interplay of ink and
paper - that printing is concerned with. As such, paper - the vehicle of the
message, as well as the biggest cost item in a printing job - is of prime
importance. Understanding paper and picking the right sheet for your job can
make or break your project.
Papers are defined by finish, grade and basic weight. Understanding these concepts
is the key to specifying the right paper.
Finish - refers to the texture of the sheet as well as being '
coated' or 'uncoated'. Smooth, woven, ribbed, gloss, matte, etc... are all common
Grade - is the classification of different types of paper based
on: the type of pulp, treatments, and the end use of the paper. Some common paper
grades include bond, book, bristol, cover, and newsprint
Basis Weight - the weight, measured in pounds, of 500 sheets (a
ream) of paper cut to a standard size is it basis weight. The major paper grades
such as bond or cover have their own standard (basic) sizes which determine the
basics weight for that grade of paper regardless of the final size of the paper
(aka: basic weight, substance).
Examples: Bond paper (such as
used in laser printers and copy
machines) typically has a basis weight of 13-15 lbs. while papers for many offset
printing projects range in basis weight from 22-150 lbs., cover weight from 60-130
lbs., and board weight from 6-24 point.