Friday, 11 October 2013


Choosing the right stock for print can be important. Stock tells the reader about the function of the product, it's feeling and quality. It is best to start thinking about stock choices before designing on a computer. This is important not due to the design elements, but due to the printing processes which are to be used and cost. 

By choosing a necessary stock for your design, costs and optimal production can be organised. 

Costs are usually just a concern when you work with a bigger production scale, and need larger quantities of paper.  The price will escalate quickly. 

But even smaller projects can have problems with cost, especially if you choose unusual inks or post processing methods. 

Finding a paper that’s cheap, but still good for your product, can be tricky. It’s recommended to consider the following before choosing an appropriate stock:

1. What is your final product? It can be a book, poster, flyer, business card, etc.
2. How long would you like the durability of the product to last? A book that will be read throughout the years should definitely be planned for a longer durability than a one day flyer.
3. What feeling do you want your product to give the receiver? Should it be fancy? Cheap? Solid? Traditional?
4. What kind of material will the product be handling? Will it be spread after spread with large photos? Or a textbook?

Coated or Uncoated Paper:
Using either coated or uncoated paper will affect the overall feeling of your product the most. 

Coated papers have 'china clay' or other kinds of coating applied to one or both sides. It can come in a variety of smoothness' such as, matte, semi-matte or silk, and gloss.
Any paper type other than matte is ideal for printing photographs or artwork on due to the paper quality. The ink in the printer doesn’t get absorbed by the paper fibers but stays at the top. This gives brighter colors and the paper a somewhat glossy finish.
The uncoated paper, which has a rough, natural feel to it, is preferred before coated paper for productions that include lots of text. 
With this paper the printer ink gets inside the top layer of the paper and sinks into the fibers beneath. 
The thing to consider is that a glossy coated paper reflects light more than uncoated paper does. This can sometimes make it harder to read longer texts. 
Usually coated paper is used for:
1. Photography
2. Illustrations
3. Things that should “pop” with colour

Use of coated stock here shows vivid bright colour, and leaves the photography with a matte finish opposed to high shine.
Usually Uncoated Paper is Used For:
1. Books
2. Magazines

Thickness and Weights:
Also known as 'caliper' or 'bulk', refers to how deep a sheet of paper is. Thicker stocks tend to be stiffer and more opaque. The thinner stocks tend to be more translucent. 
This is often measured by caliper, which is typically given in thousandths of an inch.
Some Guidelines:
20~24# – Standard weight paper
24~28# – For ordinary posters
80~100# – Preferred weight for most business cards
Paper weight is part of it's specification and is measured is GSM (grammes per square metre. It is based on a square metre of the stock. 

The heavier the GSM, the thicker and stiffer the stock is. 

Paper weight is sometimes stated using the "#" symbol. For example, "20#" means "20 pounds per basis ream of 500 sheets."
17"x 22" paper = 20#. 1/4 of this paper is 8.5" x 11" i.e. 5 lb

Information on paper sizes can be found here:

The website shown above features information on paper sizes and weights, in depth with print sizes for commercial and bespoke printing. Conversion charts can also be printed off for personal use as well as supplying a glossary amongst other resources and tools with relevance to stock and print. 

The above chart is a pdf download from Case Paper, in regards to the caliper of different types of stock, i.e. coated and uncoated.

Key Words:

Deckle Edge: 
This is the ragged edge of the paper as it leaves the paper making machine. 

Machine-made paper has two deckle edges, while handmade paper has four.  It is typically cut away. A deckle edge can add a decorative effect when left. 

The effect can be imitated by tearing the edge of the paper by hand. This is called a 'feather edge'.

This is a type of paper that shows few differences in texture and thickness when held to light. Wove paper is produced by pressing the pulp against a very fine mesh to produce a virtually uniform texture that isn't ribbed or watermarked.

A quality that allows what is printed on one side of a sheet to show through and be visible on the other.

This is caused by inadequate paper opacity. High opacity papers have no show-through. 

This is not to be confused with 'strike-through' where the liquid element of a printing ink penetrates through a sheet. 

The surface characteristics of the paper, including feel and appearance. 

From matt and dull to smooth and glossy, paper finishes can be applied offline or during the production process.

The extent to which a stock does not allow the transmission of light. High opacity allows no show-through, whilst lower-opacities do.

The alignment of fibres during the paper manufacturing process in the direction that the sheet passes through the paper making machine. The grain is usually in the direction that the fibres lay. This characteristic means that paper is easier to fold, bend or tear along it's grain direction.

Paper Types:

Coated (C):
Paper made with a mineral, starch or polymer layer spread over the surface during the manufacture. This is done to improve the paper's qualities and printability.

Coating materials can include: Kaolin clay, calcium carbonate and talc improve whiteness, brightness and surface printability. 

(C) Colours are printed using the pantone PMS system ensuring accurate and perfect colour when printing on coated stocks. 

Uncoated (U):
Paper manufactured without a coating layer, which can enhance printability. 

Minerals may be used to improve whiteness.

It is the largest printing and writing paper category used for almost all office paper, stationary and offset grades used for general commercial printing.

Stock made primarily out of mechanically ground wood pulp. 

A very cheap stock used for high volume print runs, such as daily newspapers. It has a shorter lifespan however than other grades. 

Low quality, rough surface feel and high absorbency means that reproducing images doesn't leave a high finish opposed to other coated stocks for example. 

An uncoated stock used for inkjet printing, producing quality prints but without vivid colours. 

Matte stock leaves non-glare images which do not reflect light or leave fingerprint marks.

Heavy weight, high calliper and high quality cast-coated paper with a very smooth, high-gloss surface. It has a waterproof coating generally on one side. 

Handmade Paper:
Handmade paper usually made of cotton, silk or any other materials in a mould or deckle. The mould is a frame covered with a flat screen, covered by a flat deckle or frame that contains the wet pulp run-off. Handmade paper fibres do not have a grain.

Bible or India Paper:
Thin, lightweight, long-life and generally opaque paper usually made from 25% cotton and linen rags or flax with chemical wood pulp named after its most common usage. Bible paper allows a higher number of papers within a given spine size due to its low caliper (thickness).

Paper coated with a fine woollen refuse or vegetable fibre dust that is fixed with glue to provide a velvety or cloth-like appearance to the stock. Adds tactile and a different aesthetic and feel visually.

Doesn't work well with digital printing methods, but finishing processes such as foil-blocking work amazingly well with textured/flocked stock.

- - - -
Where to get good stock?

For this brief I want to use a high quality stock which can hold print processes and finishing and fit the appropriate format. 

I researched different stock suppliers.

GF Smith, Hull.

GF Smith provide a large selection of Colourplan Papers, Smooths, Textures, Fine Coated, Specials, Digital Papers and specialist factory services such as colour matching similar to the pantone matching system.


GFSmith is an independent British company that has been providing the creative world with inspiration for over a century. From the early endeavours of our founders, through determination in challenging times, to the vision of our present-day team, our history is characterised by the zealous spirit of our people. This is because, in essence, we are a family company; firstly, in the fact that generations of certain families have worked here, but also because we have remained a self-owned business with integrity and a close-knit community.


The thing that unites us is an ingrained sense of pride in our products; a love of paper will always be at the heart of our business. We are proud to be one of the world's leading suppliers of specialist papers, and our distinctive ranges of coloured and textured stocks are widely regarded as the definitive collection of premium materials for design and print. Our concentration on uncoated papers and unusual substrates has secured our link with the creative community, and our unwavering focus on quality has built our reputation for distinction within those industries, and beyond.


In the main, we believe this distinction has come from our ties with renowned mills and like-minded companies, and the dedication of our own product development team. The sourcing and developing of the finest paper products from around the world allows us to offer an unparalleled collection of exclusive ranges, and to remain at the forefront of the paper innovation. But imagination is a quality we carry through into all aspects of our own business. In particular, we are known for a compelling use of design in marketing, leading us to collaborate with some of the world's leading creatives over the years.


We have always understood the importance of presenting our range of products in a way that is logical, helpful and inspiring. It is this instinct that has helped us built a close relationship with the creative community, which we further develop through the instigation and support of creative events. Above all, it is our desire to offer a service beyond simple duty that puts us at the forefront of the minds of our customers." - gfsmith/story

I am visiting the stock suppliers next year with 2 3rd year students from BAGD L06. 
I also emailed enquiring about free samples ahead of the visit to enhance my primary research.

"Hi there, 

I am currently studying my 2nd year of a BA(Hons) Graphic Design degree, and currently working on a brief entitled design for print.

I am producing an information pack based on all aspects of print and production and wondered if you could send me some samples to help with my primary research, as well as deciding on stocks to use for print.

Many thanks, Danielle"

GF Smith have a wide range of papers which they produce and sell, as well as dealing with environmental issues at the same time.


Paper is a natural and sustainable resource; after all, it's recyclable and biodegradable, but by dealing in papers from sustainable sources, GFSmith is fundamentally an environmentally friendly business. However, that is not enough. To further uphold our responsibility in this respect, we are involved in a wide-ranging internal programme of environmental initiatives.
Crucially, GFSmith is one of the 100 members of 'Two Sides', an initiative by companies from the graphic communications industry to promote the responsible production and use of print and paper. Recycling is crucial to all environmental efforts, and having invested in recycling baling equipment, we are committing ourselves to a long-term recycling programme – but not just of paper. In our offices, factory and warehouses we recycle card, plastic and cans (like everyone else), but also chemicals, toner, IT equipment, batteries, florescent lamps, timber and steel. Energy usage is equally high on the agenda, and we have recently undertaken a complete overhaul of our lighting system. By installing Chalmor Intelligence T5 lamps, the company has reduced its carbon emissions by 87%. This project formed a key element in a raft of measures to help us reduce our carbon footprint, but we are also working closely with the Carbon Trust and we are in the process of evaluating ISO 14001 certification.


We are proud to confirm that all GFSmith papers have a low environmental impact in their manufacture, and many carry specific environmental accreditations, which are detailed in our Selector and on the product specification sheets available on request.


In paper terms, the key environmental concern is the source. We are pleased to verify that many of GFSmith's ranges, including Colorplan and most of our Smooth and Textured papers, are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This means that they are made with, or contain, pulp that comes from FSC well-managed forests, and follows a certified chain of custody that tracks the timber through every stage in the supply chain from the forest to the final user.


Another key issue is the bleaching of pulp. Nearly all GFSmith papers made from virgin fibre are either classified as Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF), or Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF), which means the bleaching process avoids the use of harmful Chlorine, or avoids the use of Chlorine altogether.


The paper industry as a whole is one of the largest users of renewable energy, and GFSmith's sources are no exception. For example, our Mohawk papers are made using Windpower, whereby all the electricity used in the manufacturing process is offset by clean, renewable wind power. This means that such products can be classified Carbon Neutral.


In the main we promote papers made from virgin pulp, sourced from forests where trees are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally, but we also look out for good recycled papers too. Several GFSmith ranges include stocks that are wholly, or partly, manufactured from post consumer waste (PCW)."

Colourplan International:

"Colorplan launches to an international market with a new colour swatch book and website.

Colorplan is an iconic range of premium uncoated coloured papers and boards which is available in a broad palette of 50 colours, 8 weights and 25 embossed textures. First developed in 1972, this select and versatile range of papers is widely considered to be indispensable within the design industry.


The Colorplan brand reflects the same effortless simplicity, confidence and beauty of the product itself, concentrating on the expressive qualities inherent in the paper, rather than focusing on its technical attributes. This viewpoint directly engages and inspires the design audience who specify the product."
See the video for more information below taken from the GF Smith Website.

50 New colours, 25 Embossing options available, as seen below, and each stock comes in 8 different weights. 

25 Embossing Options available for stock choices.

Colour plan gives you the option to play with colour schemes online or on your iPad etc, before purchasing stocks to consider colour and finish combinations which GF Smith provide. 

Paper Weights available.

Below shows the colour options available with GF Smith in relevance to their weights.

Example of trend colours within GF Smith's colour plan.

Croppers Paper, Lancashire:

Bespoke paper suppliers based in Lancashire.

They supply:

Coloured Stock
Textured Stock
InclusionsInclusions are fibres, minerals, threads and other things selected and added for their ability to provide an interesting look, colour, texture or other desirable quality.
Glistening minerals, glitter, thermo-reactive, fluorescent and rayon fibres, latex and silver amongst others, can all be incorporated into or onto the surface of the paper to give both technical and functional attributes to the sheet.
Surface Enhancements
Functionality and Printability
Cropper Bespoke Paper Collection

They also provide a portfolio of their stocks and binding in use with finishings:

Luxury and Bindings
Bindings and Covering
Creative Print and Design
Archival, Framing and Fine Art
Chart, Paper and Maps
Education and Craft
Filing, Folders and Walles
General and Digital Print
Health and Medical
Technical and Other

Fedrigoni UK:

Fedrigoni is a specialist supplier of Italian fine papers for designers and printers. The Fedrigoni website covers all aspects of their materials as well as events they are attending.

They have an extensive online catalogue of the stocks which are sold as well as company history and contact details. It is based in London, UK.

You can request 5 free samples from Fedrigoni which I will do during the design process to find an appropriate stock to use, or to work out costs for mass production.

The Fedrigoni catalogue consists of the following brands/papers:

Book & Box - Lining and Bookbinding Papers
Century - Stationary Papers and Envelopes
Century Soho - Digital Printing Papers
Constellation (Ivory)
Constellation - Embossed Papers (Uncoated and Pearlescent)
Freelife - Recycled Papers
HI Kard - High-Strength Special Boards
Inspira - Uncoated Papers, Velvet Surface
Limited Edition Swatches
Mercato - Felt-Marked Papers
Pergamente - Translucent and Parchment Papers
Saville Row - Papers with Cotton Content
Sirio - Uncoated Coloured Papers 
Splenderlux - Cast-Coated Papers
Stucco - Lick Coating
Symbol - Coated Papers
Vergate - Laid Papers
White and Ivory
Woodstock - Recycled, Uncoated Coloured Papers