Consider Paper Early On
As soon as the preliminary design is done, choose your paper and get quotes from printers. Tell your printer you are open to suggestions, not substitutes, but suggestions.
Depending on the sheet size your printer plans to use, small changes like 5 mm in the width of your piece can sometimes make a big difference to allow the job to fit better on the sheet. At this stage, you can still make small adjustments to the design, but not when the client has signed-off on the final proof.
Getting your quotes early will also make you aware of any turn-around times you should consider in your deadline. Make adjustments if the paper you have chosen is readily available from the local merchant (1 day) or has to be shipped from the mill's warehouse (2-5 days).
A lot of mills also offer custom sheet sizes to minimize paper waste and help save on overall paper cost. But you need to know early, which paper you want to print on, as these orders can take anywhere from 5-14 days.
Consider the life span of your printed piece. Is it a direct marketing piece, that on a good day, 5% of the recipients will look at? Or does your piece have a longer life span like an annual report, a marketing brochure or folding carton?
The personality of your piece, its life span, texture, color and coating determine the price range and quality of your paper, in addition to your budget.
Ask yourself what impression the piece should make. A non-profit organization asking for financial support sends a mixed message when its mailer is printed on a premium stock. Premium paper suggests luxury and the recipient may think, "why bother, they seem to have enough money anyway."
If you are printing a job that reflects environmental issues, choose papers with recycled content, visible fibers or a mixed composition with a lower brightness and a texture that conveys the environmental feel.
For projects that suggest luxury, metallics, iridescents, suede, leather and other specialty papers create a stunning first impression.
When designing a piece, designers have a fairly clear idea of what kind of finish will enhance the design. Some designs ask for gloss, some need a matte finish.
If color and crisp image or photographic reproduction is your concern, a coated gloss, matte or silk sheet is always a great and safe choice. But, there is definitely a trend toward uncoated sheets.
Large corporations are aiming to portrait a softer, more understated image. With fluorescent inks and knowledgeable prepress technology, the natural surface of uncoated papers is an ideal background for four-color process printing.
The paper is not only there to give the ink a foundation, but to enhance the design of the image you want to portray.
Create a special interest even with a one-color print job. Don't shy away from trying something new, like unusually textured or specialty papers that are now readily available in India.
Color and Brightness
As you can imagine, not every white fits every purpose. Don't print warmer tones, such as skin tones, on a blue white sheet. It can easily make healthy-looking people look grey. This is what warmer white papers are made for.
There is white, white and white. And let no one tell you anything different. Papers are available in blue-white, balanced white, natural white, soft white -- you name it.
Blue-whites, which are very popular at the moment, have a higher-brightness and allow colors to stand out, while warmer whites, which have a lower-brightness, are more comfortable on the eyes for reading or extended viewing.
Yes, there is a definite hype going on when it comes to brightness. Don't get hung up on finding the brightest paper because even when two sheets are placed next to each other, you won't see a two-point difference in brightness.
A good quality, bright sheet is usually a more expensive sheet to make. Fillers and chemicals, such as fluorescent dyes and optical brighteners, are needed to create the paper's bright appearance. While they help give the paper a blue-white shade, they also take a toll on the paper's stability and runnability on press.
When it comes to a premium white sheet, you pay for great brightness and perfect runnability. But how do you know which sheet/grade is right for you? Once you are considering a sheet, ask your supplier for a printed sample of the best sheet and one grade below and compare.
As for colored paper, it can enhance a one-color job and serve as a background cover, but it can also affect the appearance of the printed text and images. Blue ink on an ochre-yellow sheet will look green.
But there are other options than offset printing on a colored stock. Create an interesting cover with blind embossing, foil stamping and/or a die-cut window that reveals a full color image on the inside of the brochure.
Now that we know which finish and color we want for our print job, lets look at weight. We have writing papers for letterheads, text sheets for text pages in a brochure and cover sheets. We all know that these guidelines don't really have a big impact on your paper choice anymore.
Generally uncoated papers are available from 40gsm to 150gsm , coated and matt papers from 90 gsm to 350 gsm and packagainge boards from 250gsm to 600 gsm.
If your project will be printed on both sides and especially, if heavy ink coverage is involved, the paper's opacity is crucial. Make sure the paper you choose does not allow any show-through. If in doubt, go one step heavier in weight.
If you are working on a piece that will be mailed, the weight of the finished piece is a major consideration. Watch out for postage costs and make sure the finished piece is below the postal or courier companies requirements. Look at your dummy and don't forget there will be ink and embellishments added to the weight, as well.
There is something else you should remember: if bulk and weight are important, an uncoated sheet will work better for you. Due to the clay coating, a coated paper will weigh more than its same-sized counterpart. Even though it weighs less, the same piece printed on an uncoated sheet will be thicker because uncoated paper naturally has a higher bulk.
If your job requires stiffness, such as with a business reply card, make sure the paper is manufactured to caliper and guarantees a specific thickness and stiffness.
Papers are manufactured to either caliper or weight. A paper manufactured to weight has a slightly fluctuating caliper, as the main concern during the production process is weight.
Some of you might be familiar with recycled papers. The fact is that government agencies and conservation groups continually advance the issue and put pressure on corporations to "think green." So be prepared.
When it comes to recycled papers, there are still a few misconceptions among designers and print buyers. Some believe that all papers are recycled anyway, and others worry about having limited paper choices. There is also a perception that recycled papers have a potential for technical problems in the printing process. All these fears are unfounded.
If you think looking for recycled papers will limit your creativity, think again.
It is not only the post-consumer contents you should watch out for, but also the way the paper you choose is bleached.
For years, chlorine gas has been used to bleach paper, which produced cancer-causing dioxins that infiltrate our surface waters. Now ITC in India uses ECF, an Elemental Chlorine Free process that reduces these toxins dramatically, but doesn't eliminate them completely.
A more environmentally friendly option is to look for paper that has not been bleached at all, or substitutes oxygen-based compounds for chlorine compounds. These papers are marked Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) when talking about virgin fibers, or Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) for recycled papers. The distinction is made because the origin of the content in recycled paper and the way it was bleached is not known and can't claim to be TCF.
Another option is to look for paper that is FSC-certified. This means that the fiber content in this paper, even though virgin, comes from plantations that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for sustainable forestry practices.
But, let's not forget about the paper's on-press performance. Today's recycled papers have come a long way, from what you might have heard about years ago, and run as smoothly on press as any virgin sheet. In addition, they are even known to score, fold and emboss better because recycled fibers are softer and allow these processes to be performed with ease.
The Printing Process
If your budget allows for specialty printing processes, such as embossing, foil stamping, letterpress and the like, make sure your paper is suitable for these techniques. Look at printed samples. They are available and you just have to ask for them.
As digital printing becomes more and more popular, be aware not to speck a digital sheet for an offset press and vice versa. Digital printing papers are made specifically to perform under the high heat/low moisture conditions of a digital printer or press. Offset papers are manufactured to perform at low temperatures and with liquid inks.
Using the right paper for the printing process, whether digital, offset or specialty, eliminates one variable in print production that can cause problems -- and you don't have time for problems.
End Usage and Distribution
Will the piece be mailed, mass mailed or handed out personally to selected prospects?
We discussed mail-outs earlier, so watch out for overall weight and when choosing reply or post cards, make sure the paper you speck is manufactured to the caliper required.
For educational or reference pieces with a long life span, pick a paper that offers sturdiness and durability. Synthetic papers, for example, have proven to be a great alternative to index stock, when it comes to tabs.
If a piece is handed out personally, you are home free -- no postal regulations, no weight constraints -- well, nearly none. Will the person handing out the piece or the recipient want to make notes on the piece? In that case, watch out for coated gloss papers or varnishes. Few pens write well on them and your prospects will be frustrated.
In cases where a lot of handling occurs and you are worried about fingerprints, a coating or varnish is definitely the way to go.
It has happened to all of us. We have champagne taste on a beer budget. Paper averages 60 percent of the cost of a print project. That is not a small percentage and definitely one to take a closer look at, if you work on a tight budget.
There are a lot of ways to "cut corners" and save on the general paper cost, but this would make for a whole article in itself.
If you were told in the beginning stages of your project that the paper you have chosen will be shipped from Uttaranchal and you are based in Mumbai, allow for some lead time. You will be well prepared and this will not be an issue for you.
We do hear of frustration when it comes to a paper's availability and the term "mill item" comes up a lot. Be aware that a mill item to one merchant might be readily available on the floor of the next merchant.
Due to the economic situation, merchants and printers try to carry less stock to assume less financial responsibility. Mills have, in general, warehouses all over the country and make sure they are always are well stocked, so you can have your paper in days, not weeks.
When it comes to specialty papers, especially those manufactured overseas, certain amounts are stocked in warehouses here in India, but if you need a larger amount, they will immediately tell you if they need any extra lead time. Mills like Gmund from Germany and the Fedrigoni from Italy are known to airfreight paper to India, if needed.
If you are in a rush and flexible when it comes to your paper choice, consider your printer's house sheets. As printers buy those in bulk, they are readily available and you will usually get a good price. In most cases, your printer is your best friend and you should have a good working relationship.We hope we've clarified many of the features you need to consider when choosing the most appropriate paper for your projects. If you keep our tips in mind, selecting your next paper should be a breeze.