Paper, Paper, Paper

Beth Berkompas
Beth Berkompasposted on on October 7, 2015


I love paper. I collect paper. No, I hoard paper. All kinds. There, I said it. It’s a good thing I work at Pageworks.

Paper sets the tone and foundation for your project, so you must choose wisely. What color? What finish? Texture? Weight? Cost? There are so many possibilities. We have a swatchbook library, so we can provide you with samples based on your project’s specs. (I really am excited as I type this. So much paper.)


Paper comes in almost any color imaginable. White is the most common, because you can print any combination of colors on the paper and the colors typically will not be affected by the stock. Certain colors of stock (yellow, for example) can alter the way an ink color is perceived on the sheet. A blue ink on a yellow paper can look green, for example! We can even print white ink digitally on black paper! It’s very difficult to emulate this on your computer screen, so we do our best to educate our clients on the features, benefits and effects of their paper choices.


The brightness of a sheet of paper measures the percentage of a wavelength of blue light it reflects. The brightness is projected using a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being the brightest. Brightness affects readability, how ink colors are viewed, and contrast between light and dark hues.

Finish and Texture

Ink on paper is also affected by the paper’s finish. On coated papers (gloss, satin, matte or dull), the ink dries on the surface and on uncoated papers (smooth or textured), the ink is absorbed into the stock, so the ink is displayed differently on these two finishes. It is important you choose the correct ink palette to match the finish of the paper you’ve selected for your project.

Paper texture can add another fun design element to your project. Many papers are available in textures like linen, which has horizontal and vertical lines in the paper’s finish, or laid, which has horizontal lines and watermarks in the finish. There is even a blotter paper that can be used for drink coasters. Lots of fun options!


Paper weight is measured in pounds by weighing 500 sheets of the basis size. The basis size is not the same for all paper types. Confusing, isn’t it? We’ll help you navigate! Typical weights you’ll encounter are for text vs. cover weights. For example, our house text stock is available in 70#, 80# and 100#. Our house cover stock is available in 80#, 100# and 120#. These weights are common, and lighter and heavier weights are available in other paper types. Not all papers come in every weight available. Swatchbooks show what weights are available for each paper type. Did I mention we have swatchbooks?

Paper Mills

Paper companies get their paper from paper mills around the country. French Paper Co., for example, has a very popular line of specialty paper products and its mill is located in Niles, Michigan. Specialty papers usually come directly from the mill and are most commonly only available in full cartons of large sheets. If you’ve chosen an extra thick, textured green stock, for example, you would most likely have to purchase an entire carton of sheets. This is important when budgeting for a project.

If your project needs something special to make it unique and stand out, we can help! We’d love to talk paper with you! If you'd like to learn more about different proofing options for your project and how we help ensure the final product meets your expectations we wrote a post about proofing too.