Print Graphic Design

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Print & Graphic Design Projects – Selecting Paper

Paper selection is an important element in print projects.
Selecting a paper can often be very confusing; there are numerous different types and brands of paper available today. When selecting paper, be sure to keep in mind that the choice you make for your project will affect how it the printed piece is perceived. Before placing a printing order, it is a good idea to request a paper sample for each paper you are considering for the project.
What Distinguishes Different Papersc

Finish: The finish of a paper is it’s surface texture. Uncoated and coated paper have different surface textures.
Wove or Smooth – A smooth uncoated surface. Laid – A paper that is manufactured with textured lines on its surface. This finish is used mostly for business stationery elements, like letterhead, envelopes and business cards. Linen – Similar to a laid finish, this paper has textured lines on the surface of the sheet, but they are finer and more regular than those that appear on a laid finish stock. This paper is also used frequently for business stationery. Laser – A paper that is guaranteed to be compatible with laser printers. Coated – A paper with a waxy finish (shiny or matte). Uncoated – A paper with an untreated surface that is dull and unreflective. Coated One Side (C1S) – A cover stock that has a coating on one side and is dull on the reverse side. Coated Two Sides (C2S) – A cover stock that has a coating on both sides.
Weight: The weight of a paper refers to its thickness and is measured in pounds (#). The higher the number, the more (equivalent) weight a paper has (the thicker/heavier the paper). *See the comparison table for more information on weights.

Opacity: A paper’s opacity is determined by its weight, ingredients and absorbency. A paper’s opacity determines how much printing will show through on the reverse side of a sheet. Opacity is expressed in terms of it’s percentage of reflection. Complete opacity is 100% and complete transparency is 0%.

Brightness: The brightness of a sheet of paper measures the percentage of a wavelength of blue light it reflects. The brightness of a piece of paper is typically expressed on a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being the brightest. Most papers reflect 60-90% of light. The brightness of a paper affects readability, the perception of ink color and the contrast between light and dark hues.
Types of Paper

Offset: Also known as book or text paper, offset paper can have a coated or uncoated finish. Offset paper is thinner and lightweight. It is often used for publication interior sheets, brochures & flyers, and letterheads. Common offset weights: 50#, 60#, 70#, 80#, 100#. Bond: Bond or writing papers are most often used for letterhead. The most commonly recognized bond or writing stocks are:
20# – A standard weight paper. 24# – The preferred weight for most business papers (letterheads). 28# – Heavier paper, less frequently used. Its thickness can sometimes pose problems feeding through laser printers. It is often used for outer envelopes.
Cover: Cover stocks are heavy in weight, rigid and not easily folded. These papers are generally used for publication covers, business cards, greeting cards, folders, and postcards. They can have coated or uncoated finishes. Common weights for cover stocks include: 65#, 80#, 100#, 120#, and 12pt.

Tag: Tag paper is a dense grade of paper that is strong, durable, and water resistant. Tag paper is typically used for hanging tags such as store tags on clothing or other products.

Index: Index paper is a stiff, not too thick, inexpensive paper with a smooth finish. It is often used for index cards and folders.

About the author: Caryl A. Clippinger is a graphic designer and a founder of Charlotte’s Web Studios, L.L.C., a Virginia graphic design company. For more information about Charlotte’s Web Studios and additional graphic design tips and resources, please visit


10 thoughts on “Print Graphic Design”

  1. What website can i go to to print my own design or graphic on a t-shirt for the cheapest price?
    I want to print a graphic of my own design unto a t-shirt, or other clothing (sweaters, hoodies) and I know there are websites that you can go to put your design on the clothing and they print it on it and send it to you by order. I would like to know the cheapest price website there is.

  2. What are the best graphic design (specifically print related) magazines?
    I’m looking for a new magazine subscription. Specifically something related to print design if possible and containing tutorials/how to articles. I used to get Communication Arts but they have slowly been moving more into interactive design and less to do with print. I know about the ones like HOW and PRINT, but they are more inspiration/article based. Any ideas?

  3. It’ll be easier and cheaper to just visit some signwriters or screenprinters in your area and get them to do it. If you supply the clothes it’ll be even better. Or you could just screenprint it yourself. It’s not too hard. Theres night courses to learn, it just depends how detailed and how many colours you’ll be using. It’s sometimes better to just go to the pro’s.

  4. I love HOW Magazine, but you’re right in thinking that they’re more inspiration based articles. A lot of their content talks about the design industry and trends. They also interview a studio or firm every issue as a sort of spotlight article. For the most part you’re going to find a lot of pictures, especially in their design annuals.

    I haven’t picked up PRINT very much, but from what I’ve seen the content is similar to HOW.

    From what I’ve seen at my local bookstore (Barnes & Noble), many of the design related magazines are definitely moving towards web or interactive design. You could try checking out Computer Arts Magazine (, which is UK based but they have tons of great tutorials and each issue comes with a disc that contains the resource files for each tutorial. Many of the tutorials are for Photoshop or are photo based so just be aware of that.

    You might be better off searching for tutorials online or buying a book, which pretty much costs the same as some of the design magazines.

    Good luck!

  5. Can I integrate Print Graphic Design to Web Design?
    So I am in college taking a print graphic design program, and I am already halfway through it. This past year, my school started an integrated-media program, but those are completley different classes. Unfortunately if I had a choice that’s what I would have gone to school for. So does anyone know of any websites or have any advice on how when I get my print-design degree I could maybe still find a job with web design?

  6. where can I print my graphic design portfolio?
    Are there any websites that I can send my graphic design work to, in order to get it printed?

  7. is graphic/print design a feasible career given my background?
    i have a bachelors degree in english but ive been considering graphic design/print design for a masters. I enjoy photoshop, cutting out photos or touching them, creating graphics with ms word as well as by hand.

    I’ve been thinking about brochure and magazine or newspaper design? Also, what would be the salary range for this industry?

  8. If you have skills and a really good portfolio, then I don’t see any reason why you can’t have a career in design.

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