9 Items to Consider When Choosing the Right Stock

As every designer knows, the right paper stock makes the project. It’s not unusual for designers to spend hours combing through swatch books, looking for just the right one. So how do you choose the right paper? What are the factors to consider? Let’s look at a variety of considerations that need to be part of the decision.

  1. Structural function:What is the project designed to do? Does it need a shelf life (poster, calendar, high-end product brochure)? Or do you expect it to be put into the recycling as soon as the message has been read (flyer or direct mail piece)? Does it have a structural component that requires rigidity?


  1. Delivery method: How will the project be delivered? Projects that go directly into the postal stream need to have enough integrity to withstand the rigors of postal processing equipment. If you will put the project into an outer container, such as box, tube, or envelope, thinner stock can be used without risk of damage. But watch your budget. If the project will be mailed, the heavier the stock, the more postage you will pay for the same number of pieces.


  1. Aesthetics:Visual aesthetics have a critical impact on your campaign. Considerations to take into account include brightness and hue, whether the paper is coated or uncoated, and if coated, whether the coating is gloss, satin, or matte. There are also special textures like laid and linen. Not all finishes can be run through digital presses, so check with your sales partner before selecting specialty papers for your digitally produced projects.


  1. “Feel”:Especially for high-end projects, how a project feels to the touch impacts its effectiveness. Special finishes like linen, laid, felt, and vellum are appealing to the touch and create a powerful first (and lasting) impression. They also increase cost and need to be weighed against other factors, such as mailing, production process, and budget.


  1. Images and text:Are images critical to your project? If so, your sheet should be thick enough and sufficiently opaque to prevent show through on the opposite side. Also, what level of sharpness is required? For super crisp images and text, coated papers will be your best bet. If your project is text-heavy, an uncoated sheet will make reading easier on the eyes.


  1. Ink coverage:If you will be using heavy ink coverage, such as photo-quality images and colored backgrounds, you need a stock thick enough to produce optimum results. If your stock is too thin, you risk tears and, for digitally printed projects, cracking on the fold.


  1. Scoring:Will the piece be folded and scored? If so, different stocks will score differently than others and need to be selected carefully.


  1. Bleed:Like projects that need to be scored, projects that will bleed to the edge will require different papers.


  1. Cost: What’s your budget? Specialty stocks and thicker stocks cost more, and thicker, heavier stocks will increase postage, as well.


Choosing the right paper is about form and function, but it’s also about aesthetics and budget. Contact us today and let the experts at EarthColor help you make the best decision for your next project!

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