Choosing paper stock can be difficult. Let's rephrase that: selecting the right paper stock is difficult. If you're not an expert it’s hard to know where to start.

So how do you choose the right paper stock for your print project? Here’s a hint: it’s more complicated than just selecting the most expensive sheet available. You want to develop a paper-first mindset and carefully consider a number of aspects, including the lifespan of your materials, suggestions from your designer, paper color (or brightness), and your budget.

Learn How to Choose the Right Paper

You can’t just go to a store and pick the first stack you set your eyes on. The average white sheet can be OK for some print jobs, but it isn’t necessarily a good match for yours. There are a number of factors to consider – ink coverage, moisture, the batch of paper, etc. Here are some tips that can make a significant difference:

Develop a Paper-First Mindset

Paper can’t just be an afterthought of your marketing process. As soon as the initial draft for the design is done, it’s time to think of the type of paper stock to choose. Remember, the paper choice is key to the overall impact of the design. Ask the printer for paper stock samples and recommendations based on your project goals, and make sure to print on different stocks to see the results. Ink lays differently on varied paper textures, so it’s worth seeing the proofs on the actual paper choices.

Consider the Lifespan & Usage of the Material

Is it a flyer you leave in the mail, or is it a brochure you want to distribute at a couple of locations? Is it something customers are meant to use quickly, or do you want it to hang around a while? The lifespan of your document and the durability required can help you narrow down the options. How your audience uses the piece also can dictate how thick and rugged the paper needs to be.

Read: 6 Unique Paper Types Your Marketing Craves!

Consider Brand Perceptions

The sense of touch ignites perceptions in our minds. Think about when you feel the ridged texture of a unique thick fabric – the sheer weight of it sparks a sense of quality. It's the same thing with paper. If your goal is to improve brand perception as it pertains to quality, increase the weight of your paper stock. A unique textured or uncoated paper can do wonders in terms of increasing a high-quality brand perception.

Talk to Your Designer

The person in charge of the design will also have something to say about the printing process. Designers can suggest what kind of paper will best complement their work. Will a glossy look make your print piece more stylish? Does it require a silk sheet? Are there certain embellishments you’re considering that require certain paper types? Your designer will know how to take your print piece to the next level.

Choose Paper Stock for Print | Ironmark, Annapolis Junction, MD

Know That Not All Paper Is White

“White” is a relative term when it comes to paper. Pick a brightness that will make your design pop, whatever color you choose. But again, you should discuss the paper stock with the designer and ensure the brightness, sheen and texture are taken into account. Even if you’re set on using a particular shade or color, they might need to make some tweaks to make sure the final product turns out as intended.

See If Your Budget Allows It

Of course, you can’t ignore the money factor. While you may find the perfect sheet for your prints, your budget might not agree. You could lower the order quantity, but depending on how you’ll be using the pieces, this can affect the results of your campaign. So what can you do?

Your printer can suggest convenient and more economic alternatives. If you’re set on a type of brightness but can’t afford it, a slightly darker or brighter paper stock might be less expensive. Not to mention, you may not even be able to tell the difference.

The Bottom Line

When used correctly, paper stock is a great tool that adds to your marketing strategy. Think of a business with an eco-friendly message using recycled paper for their documents and materials. This can certainly get you some appreciation from your potential customers.


The main take away here is to choose your paper carefully. Just like you’re thinking about what headline to use and the design elements, pay just as much attention to what sheet fits your needs. At Ironmark, we offer comprehensive printing services for every business, big or small. Check us out to see what we can do for you.

Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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