This section helps the designer with choice of paper stock, format and size that is available and suitable to use in commercial print. It discusses the different weights, colours and textures that are available and how much of an impact they have on the final printed design.
gsm, paper grain and direction GSM (grams per square metre) is a weight measurement that is used as part of a paper specification and is based on the weight of a square metre of the stock. The higher the GSM value, the more weighty the stock would feel. Paper produced on a machine has a grain because the fibres from which it is made line up during the manufacturing process in the direction at which it passes through the paper making machine. This characteristic effects how easy it is to fold, bend or tear and in which way to achieve this is along the direction of the grain.
The direction of fibres in paper for laser printers typically has a grain that runs parallel to the long side of the paper. This allows it to pass more easily through the printer but laser prints are not used in most commercial print formats.
paper sizes Paper sizes are standardised ISO sizes that are widely used especially within the UK, they are common formats that commercial printers will easily recognise and be able to use. European displays are metric where in the UK we still have imperial sizes, a consideration to make depending on the location of the printers. Originally for the litho and screen print industries sizes needed to be fixed and they are still used extensively in the large format digital printing market, some larger printers work on rolls rather than sheets. Within the UK we focus on A, B and C series of formats. The diagrams on this page help to explain the sizes more. A1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A6 A7 A8
841 x 594 mm 594 x 420 mm 420 x 297 mm 297 x 210 mm 210 x 148 mm 148 x 105 mm 105 x 74 mm 74 x 52 mm
newspaper sizes There are 4 main types of newspaper sizes; these are Broadsheet, Berliner, Tabloid and Compact. The diagrams on this page help to explain the sizes more. The term broadsheet derives from single sheets of political satire and ballads sold on the streets. This size of newspaper is becoming less popular and many titles are switching from broadsheet to tabloid. The Berliner format is commonly used by newspapers across Europe. The tabloid size is often referred to as being half the size of a broadsheet, however this is not exactly true but is very similar. Tabloid size is not very different from A3 when pages are folded and a transition to printing results on the sheets being on an A2 sheet, more cost effective use of paper formats.
Compact size is actually the same as tabloid but the term is used when the quality of the press titles moved from traditional broadsheet size to the smaller tabloid size, many did not want to associate the size with the type of journalism used in a tabloid newspaper.
Broadsheet 750mm x 600mm
Berliner 470mm x 315mm
Tabloid 430mm x 280mm
Compact 430mm x 280mm
american paper sizes Within American print different paper sizes and formats are used to the common A series in the UK. Although very similar, the differences are noticeable especially when applying a design for a global project but nearest ISO are available and displayed within this section. The diagrams on this page help to explain the sizes more.
Letter 216mm x 279mm
Legal 216mm x 356mm
Junior legal 127mm x 203mm
Ledger/tabloid 279mm x 432mm
paper stocks This refers to any stock or substrate that can be used to print on during commercial print processes. Most commonly used for commercial print are uncoated, coated, newsprint and cartridge. Many other specialist stocks are available from paper manufactures for use in commercial print but nearly any material can be used as a substrate for design just not with commercial print and this could include metal, ceramics, PVC, fabric, wood or even the human body. When considering which stock to use trust the printer with their suggestions and the smoother the paper the better it would hold an image.
Coated stocks such as gloss and silk are often used for high quality colour printing such as those heavily photo based. The paper is coated with a high gloss finish on either one or both sides and achieves high brightness and gloss that is available in a variety of GSM weights and colours. Uncoated stocks such as matt or fibre based papers can be used for a variety of printed publications, almost all office printers and offset grades; it can be used to add a textured quality to the design. Again this is available in a wide range of GSM weights, colours and also textures.
Newsprint is paper made primarily of mechanically ground wood pulp and because of this has a shorted lifespan than other papers. It is the cheapest to produce and the least expensive paper to use that can withstand normal printing processes. Cartridge us a thick white paper used mostly for pencil and ink drawings but can be used within print. It can be used to add slight texture to the design and publication and is available in a wide variety of different GSM weights but is more limited to that of coated and uncoated stocks.