Give some thought to the paper you choose

You’ve got a great brochure, poster or annual report. You’ve done the right things. It’s well written, has great photos or illustrations and has been designed with finesse. But have you given any thought to the paper that you are using?

I find too often that paper is an afterthought. Many folks just use whatever their printer suggests or what they’ve used before. On occasion, someone will see something printed on a stock they like and ask for it. It’s a shame because there is a wide variety of papers that are available at a variety of weights and colours.

I think that the choice of paper is as important as the choice of writer, designer, photographer, illustrator and printer. It’s a critical piece of the success of your product because it is very influential in how people experience and perceive the piece. People touch the paper and it tells them something. A thin stock (low weight) feels less expensive. Fine for some uses but more often you want at least an average weight stock and on occasion you want a heavier weight paper or even card or cover stock.

Matte is better than glossy

Sometimes what people think is based more upon perception than reality. For example, I recommend that non-profits almost exclusively use matte (i.e. flat) stocks instead of a glossy choice. People believe that a matte paper stock is cheaper than glossy–which is associated with slicker, big budget uses. In reality, the glossy paper is cheaper because it is used more and printers can get a better price for it because they order it in bigger quantities. So glossy paper might be a good choice if you are extremely cost sensitive, but I recommend using matter paper which your participants/donors think is cheaper and a better choice. Counter-intuitive perhaps but important. If there was a significant price difference, I wouldn’t make this recommendation but in general it is not significant enough to choose glossy paper.

Environmentally-friendly choices

An old joke is how many trees did it take to print that report. Now you can actually tell people how many trees you saved with your choice of paper. There are many great environmentally-friendly choices now that use recycled material. My favourite is Cascade’s Enviro 100 which has 100% post-consumer fibre. In writing this piece, I discovered that it now comes in Digital, Satin, EcoFibre and Kraft versions.

Do you think about paper?

Do  you think about paper as an important component of your choices for a print publication? Do you have any preferences? Have you ever regretted the paper you used?