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When selecting paper, remember that the choice you make for your project will affect how it the printed piece is perceived. It is a good idea to request a paper sample for each paper you are considering for the project


  • Woven or smooth –smooth uncoated surface
  • Laid – paper that is manufactured with textured lines on its surface, used mostly for business stationery such as letterheads, envelopes and business cards
  • Linen – similar to a laid finish, this paper has textured lines on the surface of the sheet, but these are finer and more regular than those on laid stock, often used for business stationery
  • Laser – paper that is guaranteed to be compatible with laser printers
  • Coated – paper with a waxy finish (shiny or matte)
  • Uncoated – paper with an untreated surface that is dull and unreflective
  • Coated one side (C1S) – cover stock that has a coating on one side and is dull on the reverse side
  • Coated two sides (C2S) – cover stock that has a coating on both sides


The weight of a paper refers to its thickness and is measured in grammes per square metre (gsm). The higher the number, the more (equivalent) weight a paper has (the thicker/heavier the paper. Generally cover board is 200 gsm or over, and text paper weights range from 50 gsm
(Bible-type paper) to 170 gsm (heavy paper
for top quality brochures).


A paper’s opacity is determined by its weight, ingredients and absorbency and determines how much printing will show through on the reverse side of a sheet. Complete opacity is 100% and complete transparency is 0%


The brightness of a sheet of paper measures
the percentage of a wavelength of blue light it reflects. The brightness of a piece of paper is typically expressed on a scale of 1 to 100 with
100 being the brightest. Most papers reflect 60–90% of light. The brightness of a paper affects readability, the perception of ink colour and the contrast between light and dark hues

ISO paper sizes

The system is based on three series:

A sizes:
For general printing and stationery. A4 is usual for business stationery brochures and booklets; A5 for smaller printed items; A6 is the international postcard size; A7 for labels and compliment slips; A8 for business cards.

B sizes:
For posters and somelarge envelopes.

C sizes:
For general envelopes or folders to contain A sizes.

The full sheet in each series is designated by the numeral 0. The longer length is then halved to give 1 and halved again to give 2 and halved again to give 3 etcetera.

The A series is based on A0. The size, 841 x 1189 is one square metre in area. The weight of the paper is also based on the weight of one square metre in grams, i.e. ‘gsm’.

RA sizes:
Are slightly larger than A sizes, allowing the printer extra space on a sheet for grip and trim.

SRA sizes:
Are slightly larger than RA sizes, and allow for printed work which includes a bleed.

When expressing the measurements care should be taken as traditionally the upright measurement was given first and the horizontal measurement second. However the British Standards Institute recommends giving the shorter measurement first and following the measurement with the letter L on a landscape format. A4 landscape would be 210 x 297 L mm

'A' range
A7: 105mm x 74mm
A6: 148mm x 105mm
A5: 210mm x 148mm
A4: 297mm x 210mm
A3: 420mm x 297mm
A2: 594mm x 420mm
A1: 841mm x 594mm
A0: 1189mm x 841mm
'B' range
B7: 125mm x 88mm
B6: 176mm x 125mm
B5: 250mm x 176mm
B4: 353mm x 250mm
B3: 500mm x 353mm
B2: 707mm x 500mm
B1: 1000mm x 707mm
B0: 1414mm x 1000mm
'C' range - Envelope sizes
C8: 81mm x 57mm
C7: 114mm x 81mm
C6: 162mm x 114mm
C5: 229mm x 162mm
C4: 324mm x 229mm