Thursday, February 25, 2010

Choosing the right paper for your project

Today's artice was written by Steve McDowell.  Please be sure to read his bio at the bottom of this post. 

Authors - you may wonder why we're including an article on choosing paper.  For newbies who haven't published yet, the type of paper you choose for your book is VERY important.  It's also important for producing press releases, etc. from your home printer.  Read and learn....


Choosing the right paper for your project

It isn't a surprise when people put in any sort of paper into their printer for the projects they need. After all, one sort of paper is just as good as another right? Why pay more for something else when they'll both work. The problem with this thinking is that not all paper is created equal. Different paper will work best for different projects. When you choose the right paper, you can get fantastic, high-quality results.

The hard part is figuring out which sort of paper you need. Paper comes in so many different types, sizes, weights, and finishes, if you don't know what type of paper your project requires it can be a little daunting. Some companies do make it easy by showcasing projects on the paper's packaging, such as business cards, invitations, or labels. However, there are others that simply tell you what sort of paper it is, not what can be done with it.

There are roughly six different paper grades: text, bond, cover, bristol, index, and newsprint grade. Grade is determined by the type of pulp it is made from, the treatments it receives, and what its ultimate end purpose often is. For example, text grade is rather common and often used, bond grade is lighter and frequently required for stationary, and cover grade is common for brochure covers.

Paper is often sold by weight (pounds), but it can also be measured in its thickness. The two do not always go hand in hand either. Paper can weigh the same, but be made differently so that one type could be flimsier than another. When doing everyday printing, certain printers often respond well to a specific range of paper weights, so before you try something different, it would be wise to consult your printer's manual in case there are any types of paper you should avoid.

Paper also comes in a very wide array of finishes. Many of these finishes will ultimately determine what you use when you decide to start printing your project. A short list of finishes includes: Dull-coated paper, matte-coated paper, glossy paper, antique paper, vellum paper, wove paper, smooth paper, felt paper, linen paper, laid paper, and parchment paper. Each paper will have a different smoothness and texture, and are often made for very specific purposes. Glossy paper is typically used when printing photos in order to get that shiny picture look. Antique paper can be good for scrapbooking or for themed projects. Vellum paper is often a little less opaque than other papers, as well as thinner.

Instead of guessing which paper you want to use for your project, you can experience them first before buying. A good idea is to go to a local printing company and ask for paper samples. You can obtain samples in the form of full sheets, paper promotions, or even a small swatchbook of different papers. If you get full sheets, you can experiment a little by printing your project on them to see how it comes out.

Choose wisely when it comes to paper; printing on the appropriate type will make all the difference with your finished project.

Of course, without ink cartridges, any paper you use will be useless.

Steve McDowell has an ongoing interest in photography and printing. He knows that the type of paper used is important and varies by product, and so does the type of ink cartridges you use. Different papers and inks produce different results.