Understanding Different Paper Stocks in Print

Whether you're designing a flyer, a business card, or a full-colour brochure, the choice of paper stock can significantly impact the final product. One of the key factors to consider is the weight of the paper, measured in grams per square meter (gsm). In this blog, we'll explore the various types of paper stocks available, their gsm weights, and how each can be used to enhance your printed materials.

1. Uncoated Paper

Uncoated paper is often used for everyday printing tasks such as letterheads, envelopes, and notebooks. It has a rough, textured feel and is highly absorbent, which makes it great for writing on with pens and pencils. Here are a few types of uncoated paper:

  • Bond Paper (70-170gsm): Commonly used for office stationery, bond paper is durable and suitable for printing letters and documents.
  • Book Paper (60-170 gsm): This type is used for novels, journals, and diaries. It’s typically more opaque and has a higher quality feel.
  • Newsprint (40-60 gsm): As the name suggests, this paper is used for printing newspapers. It’s lightweight and inexpensive.

2. Coated Paper

Coated paper has a smooth surface that can be glossy, matte, or silk (semi-matte). The coating restricts ink absorption, allowing for sharper, more vibrant images. Coated paper is ideal for high-quality print jobs, such as:

  • Gloss Coated Paper (90-350 gsm): Perfect for magazines, brochures, and flyers where bright colours and crisp images are desired. The glossy finish gives a shiny look.
  • Matte Coated Paper (90-350 gsm): Offers a non-glossy finish that reduces glare, making it easier to read. It’s great for high-end magazines and professional brochures.
  • Silk Coated Paper (130-350 gsm): Provides a balance between gloss and matte, offering a smooth, low-shine finish. This is commonly used for catalogues and corporate brochures.

3. Specialty Paper

Speciality papers add a unique touch to printed materials. These papers are often used for specific projects that require a distinct look and feel.

  • Textured Paper (100-300 gsm): This includes linen, laid, and felt marked papers. The texture can add a tactile dimension to business cards, invitations, and stationery.
  • Recycled Paper (70-300 gsm): Made from recycled materials, this paper is eco-friendly and can have a variety of finishes, both coated and uncoated.
  • Synthetic Paper (150-300 gsm): Waterproof and tear-resistant, synthetic paper is used for outdoor signage, menus, and other durable items.

4. Cardstock

Cardstock is thicker and more durable than regular paper, making it suitable for items that need to withstand more handling. It’s commonly used for:

  • Business Cards (250-450 gsm): Thicker cardstock creates a professional impression and is more durable.
  • Postcards (250-400 gsm): Often mailed, postcards need to be sturdy enough to survive the postal process.
  • Packaging (250-350 gsm): For lightweight packaging solutions, cardstock can be an excellent choice.

5. Cover Paper

Cover paper is heavier than text paper but lighter than cardstock. It’s used for:

  • Book Covers (200-350 gsm): Provides durability and a professional finish for paperback books.
  • Brochures and Reports (150-350 gsm): Adds a premium feel without being too thick or rigid.
  • Folders (200-350 gsm): Ideal for presentation folders and report covers.

Choosing the Right Paper Stock

When selecting paper stock for your project, consider the following factors:

  • Purpose: What is the paper being used for? A glossy brochure will have different requirements than a handwritten letter.
  • Design: The type of images, colours, and text on your design can influence the choice of paper.
  • Budget: Some paper stocks are more expensive than others. Balancing quality with cost is crucial.
  • Environmental Impact: Consider using recycled or sustainably sourced paper if environmental concerns are a priority.


The right paper stock can elevate your printed materials, making them more effective and memorable. By understanding the different types of paper stocks available and their gsm weights, you can choose the best one to meet your needs and achieve your desired outcome. Whether it’s the smooth finish of coated paper or the sturdy feel of cardstock, each type has its unique advantages that can enhance the impact of your print projects.

More Information

Want to find out more?

If you are looking for more information about paper stock, speak to our team for an instant quote and advice.

SW19 Design and Print Ltd.

Wimbletech Zone 2, Marlborough Hall, Compton Road. Wimbledon. SW19 7QA