How to Choose the Right Paper for a Small Format Job

Img 3822So, you did it. The file is designed, the project completed, and you’re ready to print. But wait a second -- what are you going to be printing on? The obvious answer is paper — but what type?

When choosing paper, you must determine which presentation is the best match for your print job, whether a standard, practical paper is all that is needed, or if something showier is more appropriate.

Before choosing your paper, consider these important factors that play an important role in determining how your final product looks:

1. Paper Options

There are a variety of options to choose from when considering which paper is best for your project. Most standard paper options can be broken down into two categories: text weight and cover weight, also known as card stock. Cover weight paper is thicker than text weight and better suited for special documents, whereas text weight paper is best used for standard printing jobs.  

The weights of each paper are determined when the manufacturer weighs a ream, or 500 sheets of paper. Below are some of the most standard paper options.

20 lb. Text

20 lb. paper is most commonly used with standard documents.

  • Good for black and white printing.
  • Not good when color is involved

24 lb., 28 lb., 32 lb. Text

A little thicker than your 20 lb. text paper, these text weights will allow you to print color without it bleeding through the paper.

  • Good for black and white or standard color choices
  • Great when you have extra coverage, which is when you have more than 50% of the page covered in color

80 – 100 lb. Text

80 – 100 lb. text weight is best when you have full coverage — meaning the entire page is printed on — but do not want a paper as heavy as card stock.

80 – 100 lb. text weights are good for presentations, books and brochures

80 – 130 lb. Card Stock

This is a thicker stock, most often used for book covers, post cards, invites and business cards.

  • Anything that needs to be durable would benefit from using this stock and weight

2. Paper Finish

There are a variety of finishes you can choose from. These include:

  • Uncoated — An uncoated finish absorbs ink better than a coated paper, but is not as smooth and is more porous.
  • Dull — A dull finish allows colors to pop on the white background.  
  • Matte — Matte paper will be 25% coated, resulting in a boost to visual design with limited glare.
  • Silk/Satin — A silk or satin finish gives a silky smooth finish to the print. Black shows up particularly well on this paper. This paper finish falls somewhere between a matte and gloss finish.
  •  Gloss – Paper with a gloss finish will have a full shine, making full color images pop. 

3. Specialty Paper

Sometimes, standard printing stock just won’t get the job done. Luckily, there are many types of specialty papers that can be ordered to ensure your print project turns out exactly as you’d like.


  • C1S stands for “coated on one side.” 
  • Particularly ideal for producing post cards or a project you want a gloss coating on one side of, while still being able to write on it.


  • Linen paper is a textured paper that is used for invitations or high-end calendars. 
  • Printers must be meticulous and take their time when printing on linen paper, as linen paper has grooves and we want to make sure that the ink does not pass over them.

Sticker Stock

  • Sticker stock allows your document to be printed on one side, while maintaining a sticky back on the other. 
  • Available in both gloss and matte prints.

Recycled Paper

  • Typically runs thinner than most cover stocks.                                                        


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