The Different Types Of Printing Paper: A Practical Guide

Posted on June 26, 2023June 28, 2023Categories Printing Paper

Types Of Paper For Printing

Choosing among the different types of paper existing on the market is one of the key factors for obtaining excellent quality digital printing. Depending on the product you wish to print, you must carefully select the type of paper most suitable for enhancing the visual and textual contents of your editorial or graphic project.

Choosing between the various types of paper available is only sometimes easy when faced with many different sheets. Each type of paper is characterized by a weight, a process and a finish which determine its transparency, visual appearance, weight, thickness, degree of opacity, effect to the touch and durability.

In this guide, we help you choose the type of paper for digital printing that best suits your needs, analyzing some of the weights available on the market, the recommended applications for each, and the most common paper types.

What Is A Paperweight?

Grammage is technically defined as “the weight of a sheet of paper with a surface area of ​​one square metre”, i.e. the ratio between the weight of the paper and its surface area. It is measured in grams per square meter (g/m 2 ) or simply in grams (g). It differentiates, together with other characteristics that we will see shortly, the various types of paper existing on the market.

For example, photocopier paper (also called “hand use”) ranges from 60 to 90 g/m 2, while cardboard has a weight starting from 150 g/m 2 and reaching up to 350 g/m 2 . m 2. Depending on the weight, the sheet of paper will have a certain consistency to the touch and a certain degree of transparency, which will be greater if a paper with a lower weight is chosen.

The Difference Between Weight And Thickness

It is important to distinguish paperweight from sheet thickness. If it is true that a higher weight often corresponds to a greater thickness, it is also true that the latter can vary depending on various factors:

  •       The type of processing: with the same grammage, the processing chosen by the paper mill can give the paperhigher density and, therefore, a lower thickness to the sheet, or a lower density, producing a sheet of paper with a greater thickness.
  •       The amount of wood fibre present:paper comprises a compact structure of fibres obtained from tree plants by chemical processes (cellulose) and mechanical processes (wood pulp). A large amount of wood fibre can increase the thickness of the paper.
  •       The addition of particularsubstances: some paper mills, to reduce the use of cellulose and obtain an unusual visual and tactile effect, add particular substances to the paper mixture. This is the case of Laguna ecological paper, made with algae from the Venice lagoon, or other ecological paper made with organic residues of oranges, coffee, corn and olives.

It is evident, therefore, that two sheets with the same weight can have different thicknesses depending on the type of processing and the composition of the paper.

Types Of Paper: Why It Is Important To Know The Weight

Each product has a recommended weight, from the printing of business cards to that of a book, from creating an advertising display to a brochure. The wrong type of paper on which to print your graphic or editorial project can ruin the final effect: for example, if you choose too low a weight for an advertising catalogue, the pages will be too transparent, allowing you to glimpse the images printed on the back.

The recommended paper weights based on the product category are available on the Pixartprinting website. For example, for printing your business cards, we recommend a weight of 280, 300 or 350 grams, although you can still choose the one you prefer among the other available weights. If, on the other hand, you prefer to touch the different types of paper available by hand, you can order the Pixartprinting paper sample online.

The Weight Is 90 G/M 2

 The 90 g/m 2 paper falls into the category of uncoated paper and is a natural wood-free paper that does not undergo chemical treatments. It is ideal for printing large quantities of text, obtaining a fairly light and thin print. It is used in white or ivory for the internal pages of books and for printing documents or letterheads. The 130 g/m 2

 paper weight The 130 g/m 2 paper is suitable for reproducing high-quality colour images and can be used for printing glossy magazines, brochures, posters and leaflets. It is quite resistant to ageing and can have a matte or glossy finish.

The Grammage 170 G/M 2

 This is the grammage of fairly light cardboard, which guarantees good consistency and excellent colour rendering. It is ideal for printing catalogues, presentations, certificates and posters. It is available in coated, green or recycled versions and can have a glossy, satin or matte finish, depending on the paper type.

The Grammage 350 G/M 2

 This semi-rigid cardboard is indicated for making business cards, covers, folders, postcards and invitations. Its high thickness guarantees good resistance and excellent durability over time.

Grammage 380 G/M 2

 It is cardboard for packaging, covers and rigid folders, counter displays and product tags. It is a material characterized by excellent resistance to impact and deformation.

white point to understand how the right paper can help you achieve the final result you expect!

The Different Types Of Paper For Digital Printing

As we said at the beginning, knowing the main processes and finishes available on the market is useful for choosing between the various paper types. Here is a short list of the most common types of paper :

  1. Coated Paper

 It is a type of paper characterized by a smooth and glossy surface obtained thanks to chemical additives. It can have a matte or glossy finish and is used for making magazines, posters, business cards, brochures and all products that require paper with excellent colour rendering.

  1. Marked Paper

 It is an uncoated paper, recognizable by the design in relief imprinted on the surface, which gives it an elegant and refined style. Embossed papers, laid papers and hammered papers fall into this category.

  1. Ecological Paper

 Ecological paper is obtained from wood from FSC-certified forests (Forest Stewardship Council, the most accredited forest certification system in the world) in compliance with rigorous environmental and social criteria.

  1. Recycled Paper

 It is produced with recycled waste paper, with a percentage varying from 60% to 100%. Recycled white paper, to be truly ecological, must be bleached without the use of polluting chemicals, or it must use virgin cellulose fibres from FSC-certified forests.

  1. Special Papers

 Papers or cardboards that have undergone particular processes, such as coatings, laminations and other processes aimed at obtaining highly original visual and tactile effects.

In summary, to choose between the various types of paper and weights available on the market, you will have to take into consideration the following factors:

  • The productto be printed: as we said before, there is a recommended weight for each product category;
  • The desired duration: if you want a durable print, opt for a heavier weight and high-quality paper;
  • The effectyou want to achieve: sophisticated, natural, original…Each card can convey a different message; choose the one that best suits your goals.

Paper Types: What Distinguishes Them

We often choose paper with little attention to its various types, thinking one type is as good as another. In reality, the types of paper can be very different, as can their characteristics. We have already discussed grammage above, a fundamental element defining the various paper types. There is the finish, i.e. the aesthetic aspect of the paper, which can be glossy ,  semi-gloss,  opaque ,  satin, felt- marked or even laid or embossed. We’ve also just seen some types of paper that are particularly used in digital printing. Nevertypes of paper available nowadays are truly innumerable; for this reason, we have selected some others in common use below, which you can choose to print your products on the Pixartprinting website.

So let’s see further examples of accessible paper types with their main characteristics.

Paper I Use By Hand

Uncoated paper, also known as edition paper, is a simple and little-worked paper made of pure cellulose and free from chemical treatments. It is ideal for printing a lot of text and is used to print books or catalogues, flyers, postcards, and posters. It is also suitable for letterhead or office printing and photocopying. Uncoated paper is particularly suitable for printing text with black ink; however, it is less suitable for colour printing due to its low chemical treatment.

Recycled Paper

Increasingly in use is recycled paper. Today recycled paper has reached a quality equal to that of pure cellulose: recycled paper is obtained from the pulping of paper coming from waste from paper mills and printers, using from 50 to 100% of recovered fibres. To reuse it, recycled paper is subjected to a particular chemical process which removes the ink from the fibres.

Coated Paper

Another widespread paper is coated paper, which is subjected to patina, a treatment applied to both sides of the sheet, making the surface smoother and suitable for enhancing the chromatic rendering of the print.

The patina added to the surface is composed of water, smoothers, additives and pigments in such a way as to decrease the penetration of the ink on the paper and to give the final print superior colour sharpness and which lasts longer. For this reason, coated paper is preferable for printing coloured flyers, leaflets or brochures.

Matte Coated Paper (Or Demi Matt)

There are two types of coated paper widely used: the first is matt coated paper, also known as demi matt, which has more delicate tones and has an overall more natural appearance than glossy paper. It is particularly suitable for products with a large amount of printed text that must be read accurately.

Glossy-Coated Paper (Or Gloss)

On the other hand, glossy coated paper (or gloss) has superior brilliance as well as a  satin finish that guarantees prints with bright and realistic colours and high-definition images. In addition to traditional advertising materials, this paper is suitable for personalized posters, flyers and calendars.