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How to choose the best paper weight for your print job

Published time: 2014-06-06 11:59

One of the top questions asked by prospective printing customers is “how do I choose the best paper weight for printing?” Our customer service representatives at MGX Copy frequently advise our customers on our suggestions based on their specific print job.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to the concepts you need before you try to choose the best paper weight for printing.

Step 1: Choose the best paper weight by the kind of print job

The first question you should ask yourself is: are you printing color copies? Are you printing booklets? Are you printing business cards/postcards?

This will help you focus your decision-making based on the kinds of paper weights typically chosen for those kinds of printing. At our MGX Copy print blog, we’ve actually written a couple of blog articles that discuss product-specific paper guides:

Step 2: Think about whether you want a cardstock paper weight, or a non-cardstock paper weight

If our guides don’t help you find the right paper, you want to think about the next step.

Printing customers often obsess about the numbered paper weights (i.e. 24lb/60lb/80lb), but I typically tell them not to worry about that detail. First you should choose what kind of paper you want.

The big question is to whether you want cardstock or a non-cardstock sheet.

Cardstock is also known as “cover”, “index”, or “bristol”. Non-cardstock papers are called “text”, or ”bond”. At MGX Copy, our “cover paper” is synonymous with “cardstock”, and non-cardstock is synonymous with “text weight”. This keeps things simpler for our customers.

Step 3: Choose a paper coating—glossy (coated), matte (coated), or uncoated

Once you know whether you want a cardstock paper weight or a non-cardstock paper weight, you next want to choose between glossy paper, matte paper, and uncoated paper.  This is because not all coating types have the same paper weight options.

For example: glossy paper has the option of 60 lb. glossy text, while matte paper does not. Uncoated paper has 50/60/70 lb, but doesn’t have 80/100 lb.

Step 4: You choose your numbered paper weight (i.e. the “basis weight”) LAST

Remember what I was saying about numbered paper weights earlier? Customers often wonder about the basis weights FIRST, when they should be thinking about it LAST. When they think about basis weights first, they get confused between the difference between “80 lb. glossy cover” and “80 lb. glossy text”. (The cover paper is a cardstock, and is much thicker.)

But if you already know you want a “glossy cover”, and you only have to choose between 2 options—and it’s really easy. Do you want the thicker cover paper (100 lb. glossy cover) or the thinner cover paper (80 lb. glossy cover)?

Final thoughts when you choose the best paper weight for your print job

The key problem is to focus on the numbered paper weights (i.e. the “basis weights”). Basis weights are very confusing for first time print customers. Instead, focus on the kind of paper you want, and then choose the paper weights relatively.

If you know that 80 lb. glossy cover is the thinnest paper, and you want a thicker paper, then choose the thicker one!