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What paper weight gsm should you use to print on?

31st March 2010

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GSM or Grammes Per Square Metre is the measurement used when weighing paper sheet sizes. Although any weight of paper can be used for any printed item, there are generally a few unwritten guidelines we follow in order to make sure the finished product is suitable for its purpose.

For example, if you printed a business card onto a low-gsm paper it will feel flimsy and most probably give a negative view of your company. On the other hand you wouldn’t want to print an A2 poster onto a high-gsm paper stock either. It would certainly feel good quality but it wouldn’t be practical, the posters heavy weight would cost more in delivery and there is a greater chance of it falling down as well as being more bulky for transportation purposes.

Therefore there are general guidelines when printing these types of standard items, of course these are not set in stone and the application of paper weight to each item needs to be considered for every print project. Below are some standard print items and the gms weights used:

Corporate 24 page brochure – anything between 170gsm – 300gsm, an important point to remember is that the more pages printed onto a heavy stock increases the chances of the pages springing open and the brochure not laying flat.

Oversized A4 company literature folder – between 350gsm – 400gsm, folders are used to contain many different items whether datasheets, product sheets, note pads, invoices or proposals and as such need to be strong and study. A lightweight paper stock would simply fall apart under the stress.

Business cards – either 350gsm – 400gsm, business cards are generally your first introduction to a potential client and need to express your company and values suitably. To a customer, a flimsy lightweight business card, might be a reflection of your company and quality of your product or service.

A4 datasheet/insert sheet – between 170gsm – 250gsm, a datasheet promotes your company/products and can be presented within folders, presentation wallets or literature dispensers (possibly at an exhibition) and is generally of a medium-weight feel.

This is especially important when choosing specialist paper stocks. Due to the way papers are manufactured, the fibres in some paper stocks are not as compacted as they are in others, even though their sheet-weight may be the same, some papers will appear to be thicker than others. Whatever the printed item and whatever its purpose is, each project needs to be considered carefully and the correct paper stock decided upon. Paper samples are always available and if necessary mock-ups can also be supplied to get a real feel for the finished item.