Types of paper for printing
There are literally reams of paper to choose from in the print industry. And the type you go for will make a huge difference to your final project.
Paper is most often categorised by size, weight or the type of coating.
Standard paper options
The standard types of paper used for printing are:
This is the most common type of paper and is often found in office printers. It has a matte finish which means that ink dries quickly on it, and works well with the properties of toner.
As a multipurpose paper stock, copy paper is thinner and cheaper than laser paper. It’s fine for black and white documents and standard text, but won’t give the best finish for professional print or images.
Slightly thicker than laser paper, this works with inkjet printers to give crisp, colour-rich images, making it perfect for photos or even business cards in a thicker paper stock.
What could be better for photos than…photo paper! This durable stock comes in two main finishes, glossy or matte, and is the best option for printing top-quality, high-definition images.
While it can be a bit more pricey, cardstock is a thick, durable paper type which is ideal for flyers and business cards that need to withstand some handling.
Different weights of paper for printing
Paper weight is measured in GSM (grams per square metre), which is a unit that describes the thickness of a paper stock.
Standard print paper or copy paper is usually 80gsm. While every project is different, we’d usually recommend the following GSM list for other projects:
- Letter: 80 – 120gsm
- Postcard: 300 – 350gsm
- Business card: Up to 400gsm.
Paper size guide
The standard UK paper sizes are:
|Paper sizes UK
|Width x height(paper sizes in mm)
|Width x height(paper sizes in cm)
|1189 x 841 mm
|118.9 x 84.1 cm
|841 x 594 mm
|84.1 x 59.4 cm
|594 x 420 mm
|59.4 x 42 cm
|420 x 297 mm
|42 x 29.7 cm
|297 x 210 mm
|29.7 x 21 cm
|210 x 148 mm
|21 x 14.8 cm
|148 x 105 mm
|14.8 x 10.5 cm
|105 x 74 mm
|10.5 x 7.4 cm
|74 x 52 mm
|7.4 x 5.2 cm
|52 x 37 mm
|5.2 x 3.7 cm
|37 x 26 mm
|3.7 x 2.6 cm
While A-series paper is the most commonly used, there are other paper series that come in standard sizes, too:
B series paper
B series papers are most frequently used in litho printing – often for books or posters – or where A series paper is too big or small for a project. The B series sizes tend to fall between the standard A series sizes, For instance, B4 paper measures between A3 and A4.
C and D series paper
C and D paper sizes are typically used for envelopes. A DL envelope is a standard size for roll-folded letters, for example. And a C4 envelope is designed to fit unfolded sheets of A4 paper inside.
Coated vs uncoated paper: What’s the difference and which is best?
Not all papers are created equal. There’s a big variation in coated and uncoated paper stocks and, depending on your printed project, it’s a good idea to pick a paper quality that’ll bring your vision to life.
There are two main types of paper used in digital printing:
Uncoated digital paper
- Calendered paper – Calendered paper undergoes a process where it is pressed between metal cylinders or rollers (calenders) to achieve a smooth surface after the paper making process.
- Ideal for a smooth finish
- Absorbs ink into the paper
- Typically textured
- Best for paper weights 150gsm and over
“Uncoated paper is often compressed between heated rollers to make it very smooth. That said, it’s more tactile than coated paper and easier to fold, even at higher weights. While it has many advantages, if you’re looking for a high degree of detail, uncoated stock can present some challenges. Some colours may appear duller and the inks may take longer to dry, which could lead to the slowing down of projects on a short deadline.”Dean Murray – Studio Manager
- Has a smooth or glossy surface
- Can come in a matte, silk or satin finish
- Ink sits on the top of the paper
- Used for high-quality, crisp print
- Best for solid colours and metallic inks
“Coated paper offers sharp, high-detail images with lots of contrast and, as such, is often used in magazines and brochures as the glossy finish adds a premium quality. Text-heavy documents and artwork may not look their best on coated paper, however, as the shiny surface can make it difficult to read.”Dean Murray – Studio Manager
Specialist paper types for printing
“Some print jobs require something a little bit more special. If you have a bespoke project in mind, our team will be able to offer guidance, whether you plan to print on transparent materials or acetate, are looking for embossing or foiling, or want to use a paper stock that’s thicker or thinner than standard.
We can also advise on bindings, folding and finishing techniques, as well as the best ways to show off fluorescent, metallic or UV inks.”Dean Murray – Studio Manager
Printer paper can either come in a ream or as sheets. At Eight Days A Week Print Solutions, we use both options, depending on the job in hand.
Buying paper is something we do a lot of! Our procurement team are experts at sourcing top-quality paper reams that will make your project stand out.Talk to us about print procurement
Sustainable paper for printing
More and more of our customers are requesting to print in environmentally-sustainable ways.
While, historically, the print industry hasn’t always been squeaky clean, these days there are a lot of positive changes being made across the sector.
Dive into the facts on the print and paper industry and its sustainable impact with TwoSides.
As a B Corp Certified and Carbon Neutral printer, we endeavour to source sustainably, hence providing our customers access to PEFC and FSC-accredited paper stock. Relying on trusted suppliers to deliver projects and goods which have a low-impact on our planet.
At Eight Days a Week Print Solutions, we strive to be as eco-friendly as possible. Markedly, being B Corp Certified, our customers can be sure we adhere to strict environmental, ethical and social responsibility criteria by:
- Offer PEFC and FSC-certified paper stock
- Operating as a carbon-neutral printer and offsetting our annual emissions
- Offset Carbon emitted by our paper usage
- Getting involved in tree planting schemes
- Recycling all of our waste paper
- Investing in efficient new machinery to minimise waste
- Encouraging customers to use paper wrap as an alternative to poly-wrap
- Recycling or repurposing toner cartridges and printer parts
- Disposing of ink and water responsibly
Which inks are best for print?
Different types of ink work better with some types of paper than others. Additionally, Ink tends to sink into paper, while toner sits (and dries) on the surface and can give a richer, cleaner look.
Once we know the specifics of your job, our in-house team will be able to advise on the best way forward, to make your colours pop on the paper stock you have in mind.Discover our print services
What’s the best paper for my project?
We asked Dean, our Print Studio Manager, what paper he’d recommend for a variety of printed projects.
What’s the best paper for a book?
The pages of some books are like tissue paper! Our machine will print as low as 60gsm but I would recommend 100gsm to give it a bit of a quality feel.
What would you recommend as a quality printing paper?
At Eight Days, we use Sylvamo PrePrint paper for the majority of our work. ‘Conqueror’ is the best paper stock for quality stationery materials. It comes in different textures – hammered, smooth, laid – and different shades of white such as High White and Brilliant White.
What’s the best paper for printing art?
For a watercolour reproduction, I would recommend an uncoated offset material. If it’s a highly detailed image you want to print, I would suggest a 200-250gm Sylvamo’s PrePrint-S stock. But if it has bold blocks of colour, go for a smooth, digital paper stock.
Best paper for leaflets?
I’d recommend a silk material in 130-150gsm to give a professional finish. If using a toner based machine, it’ll need creasing on our machines before folding so the end result still looks top-quality.
Best all-round paper for printing?
Sylvamo branded paper consistently runs the best across all our machines. But there are many alternatives out there and any calendered digital papers would give a similar effect.
What’s the best printing paper for certificates?
The coverage and design will dictate which paper is best here. Personally, I think a non-coated offset material with a bit of texture always looks better with gold embossing. If the artwork has tints then a smoother material may be better. To give it some substance, I’d recommend a 200gsm paper weight.
What’s the best paper to print my direct mail campaign on?
This will always depend on the campaign. Generally, I’d suggest choosing nothing lower than a 200gsm paper stock, or 250gsm (or over) for a one-piece mailer.
Best printing paper for cards?
For cards and business cards, I’d always recommend something upwards of a 340gsm stock. But our in-house printer will take 450gsm, if you’re looking for something thicker. If you’re printing postcards, a 300gsm or 350gsm stock would work well.
Our paper guide gives you the basics, to get your project off the ground. However, with so many options to choose from, as well as formats, finishes and folds to think about, we’re always available to chat through your print campaign ideas.
Let us help you put your best foot forward.