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Parlez Vous Paper? Speak Like A Paper Pro

From the Printware Blog on Thursday 18th June 2015 in Consumer Advice

Whether you are a multinational conglomerate or an up-and-coming UK business, a large portion of your daily dealings will involve paper, printing and all sorts of administrative trivialities. Now, for the most part, there is a seamless blend between the digital 21st century world and the traditional paper-based office, with one complementing the other in an effective and efficient partnership. There comes a time though where you have to face the nitty gritty of the paper and printer based world, when hardware needs servicing, and supplies need topping up.

Now, when it comes to the hardware, you can generally expect to know what you require. If, for whatever reason, you don’t know what kind of printer will best suit your needs and preferences, you can always ask advice from a trusted supplier. Similarly, when it comes to replacing printer cartridges, you have little room for error as long as you buy cartridges that are compatible with your printer, and you replace the right ink at the right time. When it comes to choosing and replacing the right paper though, things can become a little more tricky.

Picking office paper

As well as there being umpteen different sizes of paper, from old faithful A4 and letter sizes, to A5 and A3 for special projects, there are also all sorts of textures, finishes, thicknesses and colours. With so much choice for the simplest of supplies, where do you actually start? For all printer consumables then click here today!

It is important to look at what you need the paper for, as well as how much you need and how often you need it. Once you have defined all of these requirements, you will be able to start researching appropriate paper types or, if you find yourself stuck, you can ask an expert. Either way, before you can make an informed decision, you need to know what it is you are looking for in the first place. Of course, this is easier said than done in the world of printer paper, not only because you may have six different types of paper you use on a regular basis, but also because paper has a language all of its own.

Parlez Vous paper? No? That’s fine, because we have compiled this quick guide to help you speak paper like a pro. Read on to see what you will need to decode next time you stock up the printer paper supply.

Piles of fanned paper


Brightness is what the paper world uses to describe how white or reflective paper is. Ranging from 1 to 100 (with a minimum of 80 in the commercial realm), the scale helps you determine whether or not a certain type of paper will provide a good finish. The last thing you want is to present a proposal on cheap paper with low brightness; yes, it may save money, but it will also leave you with diminished contrast, off-whites and not-quite-blacks, making for a poor result. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the better the paper.


Opacity is the term the paper industry uses to explain how translucent paper is when it is held up to the light. To some degree, most paper will show what is on the other side when held up to the light. However, some cheap papers will have such low opacity that the ink from one side will simply bleed through to the other, effectively making any documents printed with it useless. There is no specific opacity grading but, generally speaking, the higher it is in opacity, the better it is in quality.


The thickness of paper is described in terms of ‘weight.’ Thick paper is generally associated with higher quality documents, predominantly because of its look and feel. The cheaper papers that are lower in weight tend to be less able to handle printing, and are more prone to translucency and ink bleeds. You will often see this represented in grams per square meter (g/m2) also known as grammage and is often reference as gsm. The higher the g/m2 the heaver the paper, typical office paper is 80gsm.

An alternative measurement for paper you may find, used in America and a few other countries, refers to the weight of 500 sheets, and it is displayed in pounds. The average measurement for plain paper is 20 pounds, whilst better quality papers are around 24 or 32 pounds. Postcard stock, however, weighs in at 110 pounds.


The texture of the paper can play a big role in the impression it gives. In the paper world, texture refers to the look and feel of the paper’s finish. Factors such as the manufacture, the coating (or lack thereof) and the materials used in its making all impact the overall finish. Paper can be silky, matte, grained or pebbled, smooth or shiny; any number of things. The overall texture of paper affects how it reacts to ink and toner, with smooth papers best in inkjet and laser printers.

These four aspects of paper language are just the main factors you ought to be aware of when selecting and restocking paper. In addition, you will have to be sure you select the right size and colour paper, as well as the most cost-efficient option – all without compromising on quality or capability. Paper is important when it comes to printing, and you should pay it proper attention.

For any other advice or information on printing and printing accessories, feel free to get in touch. 

Posted in Consumer Advice

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