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What Kind of Paper Should I Choose

When you’re running a paper company, one question you hear all the time is, “what kind of paper should I use for my project?” It seems like there are as many types of paper as there are projects, so choosing the right one for your needs can be challenging. Not only can the right paper set your project apart, but choosing the perfect paper from the start can save time, money, and the hassle of having to re-print your project all over again. And since paper makes a first impression, whether good or bad, it’s important to pick wisely. Here’s how to choose the paper that’s best for you and your needs.

The difference between card stock and text paper

Before we talk about all the different ways you might use paper, let’s first talk about the different types of paper. There are benefits to using both text paper and card stock, and I’m sure you’re already familiar with both kinds, even if you don’t know it. Here are some things to consider when choosing paper.

Cardstock

Cardstock, also known as cover stock, is a thick, durable form of paper that comes in various weights and textures. Because it’s a fine paper with a heavier weight and more luxurious finish than text paper, it’s perfect for formal stationery and heavy crafts.

By far the most distinctive quality about cardstock is its texture. Ranging from smooth cotton to hatched linen, the texture can affect the look and feel of your project as well as how well your paper carries ink. We carry a variety of textures in the shop, but here is a quick rundown of some of the main types.

Cardstock is often measured and sold according to its thickness, referred to as “pounds” in America or “GSM” in Europe. We will be talking about cardstock weight in another post, but for now, just know that the higher the weight, the thicker the cardstock. Most home printers can handle anywhere between 80# and 100# without jamming, while commercial printers can handle up to 130# stock. Save anything over 130# for letterpress and fine art printing.

Material Types

MaterialDescription

Linen

Semi-rough paper that resembles linen fabric. The cross-hatched appearance hides imperfections and adds interest, making it perfect for DIY projects and invitations.

Cotton

Made from 100% cotton, this cardstock has a soft feel and a smooth texture. It gives projects a clean, modern look.

Felt

Velvety smooth texture that resembles felt fabric.

Columns

Elegant finish with vertical embossed lines running the length of the sheet.

Parchment

Thin, almost translucent paper that lends projects an elegant look and feel.

Laid

Cardstock known for its thin, slightly raised horizontal lines that give it a somewhat ribbed texture.

Canvas

Heavier paper with an embossed finish like linen cardstock, only more pronounced. It’s perfect for wedding invitations and greeting cards

Text paper

Text paper is what most of us think of as regular, everyday copy paper. While it does come in various weights, the American system measures text paper and cardstock weights differently (ie. 80# cardstock is thicker than 80# text paper). Like cardstock, it also comes in a limited number of textures and an assortment of colors.

Common Uses for Cardstock

  • Invitations
  • Greeting cards
  • Business cards
  • Gift tags
  • Resumes
  • Scrapbooking
  • Craft projects that require higher durability

Common Uses for Text Paper

  • Programs
  • Flyers
  • Marketing materials
  • Letterhead
  • Memos
  • Copies

How to choose the right paper for your project

Like I mentioned before, there are as many different projects as there are papers to choose from, but this list will get you started. Here are some of the most common projects we see, and the paper we recommend to go along with them.

PROJECTPAPER RECOMMENDATION

GREETING CARDS

Whether you’re running a stationery business or you’re just printing cards for friends and family, look for a smooth, foldable paper, like our 65# or 80# solid cardstock. It comes in a variety of colors and the smooth finish will let your design shine through.

WEDDING INVITATIONS

When it comes to wedding invitations, the heavier the cardstock, the more professional your invitations will look. I love 120# cotton cardstock for wedding stationery. But if you’re printing your invitations at home, 80# linen will work on most home printers and it hides imperfections like a dream.

BUSINESS MARKETING MATERIALS

For everyday printing, flyers and booklets, I recommend either plain white or colorful text paper

BUSINESS CARDS

I once heard someone say that business cards should stand out, either in size or thickness. That way when someone is looking for a card they’ll find yours immediately. Choose a heavier paper like 110# felt cardstock or one with an interesting texture like canvas cardstock

CRAFTS

When it comes to paper crafts, the world is your oyster, but I love to get creative and play with more interesting papers like glitter cardstock, vellum and foil cardstock.

TEST PRINTING

Don’t use expensive paper for a test print. Always use an inexpensive cardstock or plain printer paper to test. Then when you’re happy with the results, print it on the “good stuff.” Take it from someone who tends to go through way too many pieces of the good stuff playing with printer settings! If you’re not sure what kind of paper you need, be sure to check out our sample packs.

Understanding Paper Weights

When it comes to paper, especially cardstock and specialty papers, you’ll often see it described in terms of its “weight”. Paper weight is admittedly one of the more confusing aspects of choosing paper, and we receive questions about it all the time. While paper has been around for centuries, paper weight is a relatively new term that often means different things to different people. But understanding weight is actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Here’s a general guide to help you choose the right weight for your needs.

Understanding Paper Weight

In short, weight refers to the paper’s thickness, with the higher the number, the thicker the paper. In the U.S. this is often measured in pounds (also written ‘#’ or ‘lb’) but you might also see the European measurement of GSM (grams per square meter) tossed around. The American system is less unified and uses a different weight for different categories of paper, but since we’re based in the U.S. we’re going to be talking in terms of American pounds here.

It’s important to understand that with the American system, cardstock weight and text paper weight are two different things. This means that 80# cardstock is not the same thickness as 80# text paper. In fact, 80# cardstock is actually much thicker than 80# text paper. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. But when comparing weights among the same type of paper (comparing cardstock to cardstock for instance) a higher number always denotes a heavier paper.

Here’s how to differentiate between the different types, thicknesses and weights of paper.

Cardstock Weight

Cardstock is known for being a thicker, sturdier paper that’s perfect for formal invitations and stationery, business cards, and greeting cards. Cardstock weight can range anywhere from 45# to 200# or higher.

Paper Weight Thicknesses
Cardstock WeightCommon Uses

65#

A thinner cardstock that’s perfect for craft projects and layering. Its low weight makes it perfect for die-cutting, paper punching and scrapbooking.

80#

A medium weight cardstock that goes through most home printers easily. Because it’s so versatile, it’s one of the most popular weights for all types of projects. You can use it for DIY invitations, wedding stationery, greeting cards, resumes, flyers and business cards.

100#

On the heavier side, 100# cardstock gives any project a professional look and feel. In my experience, it can go through most home printers without a problem, but I highly recommend testing a sheet first! Professional printers and office laser printers should be able to print on it just fine.

110#

A favorite for wedding invitations and stationery, 110# cardstock feels sturdy while still retaining a light elegance.

130# and up

This is what we refer to as heavyweight cardstock. It’s great for paper crafts, but if you plan to print on it, save this for professional printers, embossers, and letterpress printing.

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a cardstock weight:

PRINTING

If you’re printing at home, 80# stock is usually the maximum recommended. I have gone as high as 100-120# when hand-feeding paper through the rear feed tray, but I always make sure to test it first. Industrial laser printers can usually handle much heavier paper, but again, test a few sheets before you invest in the heavy stuff.

STYLE

Formal stationery and projects often look more professional on heavier cardstock. Meanwhile, business cards and greeting cards work great on 80 – 100# cardstock.

POSTAGE

The heavier the cardstock, the more postage you will need when mailing invitations or greeting cards!

Text Paper Weight

Text paper is a thinner paper often used for printing office documents and flyers. Because it’s so versatile, you can pretty much use it on any printer and for any project without having to worry about jamming, extra postage, or the like.

Text Paper WeightCommon Uses

50#

Thin, inexpensive, all-purpose paper that’s often used for copying and printing documents.

70#

A bit more substantial than common copy paper, this paper weight is perfect for brochures, menus, letterhead and important documents.

80#

While 80# text paper is thinner than 80# cardstock, it often makes an economical alternative that can be used for wedding programs, heavier menus, fine brochures and sometimes even invitations.

100# and up

This is a thick paper that is often reserved for professional and commercial printing.

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