Category Archives: Paper

It seems so obvious and yet …

Certain combinations of ink and paper don’t mix. Here are a few to avoid. The ubiquitousness color printers allow for checking colors but sometimes that color of paper isn’t available. Be careful but don’t be afraid to do something different. Check with your printer, that’s what they are there for.

  • Transparent ink on colored paper can disappear
  • Blue ink on dark green paper
  • Yellow on white paper
  • Black ink on red paper

These combinations can work, but best stay away or develop the color scheme in concert with your printer.


Add some excitement to your life

I once worked in a graphics department where a supervisor trying to boost morale suggested we pretend to be having fun. Really, it happened. That supervisor soon left and not a moment too soon. And while the plastic guns that shot foam disks and the silly string was soon banned no one could stop the rubber band wars from raging. I’m not suggesting you buy a case of silly string and have at it on a Friday afternoon; on second thought–do it. Summer is coming, have some fun. You can buy silly string at the dollar store. So there you are, see you next week.

What I am actually suggesting is adding some punch to your black and white or two color documents with colored and or textured paper. Having your proposal or new regulations on a paper with a tactile quality can give your ideas a weight and importance that smooth white paper cannot. Using a colored paper, not bright yellow–though maybe–can say, “Hey, I’m important. Pay attention to me.” Try it with documents you print yourself for meetings or presentations. The paper cost will not be much more that regular white paper. Buy a ream and give it a try and if that doesn’t work, go with the silly string.

Sheet size, a case for staying inside the box

Sheets of paper used on printing presses come in several standard sheet sizes. The job is printed, trimmed and folded and there you go. If your finished printed piece is of standard size then the press fed sheet area is maximized. If you go off the grid and have a non-standard size, say 12 x 8.5 inches, then more paper is trimmed off as waste, more paper is used, perhaps only 3 prints per sheet and not 5 prints per sheet. I’m all about standing out in a crowd, but do it with design and content not odd sizes. And as my mantra if you have your heart set on something unique, talk to your printer.

And for the geek in you, samples of standard sheet sizes are 23 x 35 inches, 25 x 38 inches and 35 x 45 inches.

Dot gain, weight gain, all things we want to avoid

Short and sweet today. Dot gain is what happens when ink soaks into paper and spreads. Think of a drop of coffee on a paper napkin. Now think of that drop of coffee on a table, it just sits on top. With uncoated paper ink will soak in and spread, how much depends on how much ink and the type of paper. Dot gain will be less with a coated paper since the ink will sit on top of the paper. So if you are using an uncoated paper, thin small text is something to avoid or least take into consideration. Large color areas with heavy ink coverage is something to consider too, never hesitate to talk to your designer and/or printer about these issues. It may be a simple as changing a typeface or switching to a paper with less dot gain properties.

Paper Weight, not Paperweight

Fear not, I will explain how paper weights work and tell you what you need for what. Paper weight is based on the weight of 500 sheets of paper. What you may not know that the weight is based on the sheets of paper being 17 X 22 inches. Ah ha, see? You thought it was based on an 8.5 X 11 inch ream of paper. It gets a bit more complicated when it is a larger sheet used for offset printing but while absolutely fascinating (it is to me) that’s not how we roll here at this blog. Here’s what you want to know:
Bond or office paper is commonly 20lb bond (By the way it’s called bond because government bonds were once printed on this light weight paper). It’s what goes in the copier or printer.
Writing paper–letterhead, resumes, stationery, etc. 24lb writing (range of 20lb to 28lb)
Text paper–brochures, inside report pages 60lb to 100lb. It folds easily and is good for brochure and flyers. 70lb is a very nice envelope weight.
Cover paper–Covers, business cards, greeting cards, invitations all do well as 80lb. Postcards are usually 80lb–90lb.