Getting Palpable About Paper

As humans, we are very visual and much of how we interpret the world comes through the sense of sight. An additional sense we don’t…

As humans, we are very visual and much of how we interpret the world comes through the sense of sight. An additional sense we don’t think about as much is touch, which just so happens to be more powerful than we typically think.

The way an object feels in our hands has a direct relationship to how we, in turn, feel about it. This is a very important fact to remember when deciding the paper characteristics for any brochures, business cards, or other collateral materials.


Cool! Give me a crash course. I thought paper was paper?

There are basically two different types of paper stock: coated and uncoated. Coated papers have a high degree of finish to them—they feel very polished and high end. You’ll see these in magazines, collateral material, books, and annual reports. Uncoated papers are more porous and have texture to them—they’re a little “rougher around the edges” and offer more personality.

Lately, paper is trending more toward uncoated stocks. However, depending on the types of printing techniques, a coated stock may serve as a “primed” sheet of paper for the end technique.

Beyond coated or uncoated, paper stocks also vary in color, thickness (called “weight”), smoothness, brightness, and other various traits.


Ok. So how do I know which traits to choose?

The first thing to remember is that your paper choice must fit within the functionality of the printed piece. For example, a coated, high-gloss paper will be difficult for the average pen to sign, so it’s not a good choice for letterhead.

Heavy paper stocks always have a nice, substantial feel, which is good for a business card. Just be careful using it for something that needs to be folded. The end piece might not lay flat or the edges can crack if the stock is too thick.

The best thing to do is let your designer know up-front that you’re feeling adventurous about paper choices. Many times when using colored stocks or specialty paper the design might need to be tailored to the paper, and your designer can help guide you through the process. Additionally, specialty papers often take longer to ship to the printer, so you may need to allow for more production time.


I want to explore my options! How can I do that?

We have hundreds of different paper books here at our office. Come check them out! We can also easily order samples if you want to see more.


What’s your favorite paper then, Ms. Paper Pants?

I am partial to the super-heavy, cotton-feeling papers. I have a difficult time even throwing away the scraps — the tactile feel just screams, “Keep me!”