Where Do Pocket Folders Come From?

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Oct 28, 2011 @ 12:45 PM

Pocket folders are a great way to package and present a variety of materials to your intended audience; whether it’s documents, inserts, CD/DVDs, brochures, booklets, or other items.  One of the appeals of pocket folders is their ability to cost effectively enhance your brand or message, since they can be custom printed and produced fairly econimically.

Pocket Folder IconIt’s surprising though, how many people use, see, feel, and possess pocket folders, but have no clue how they are made!  “Do you have a template?” is a common question we’re asked all the time.  To the right is a diagram showing the basic layout of the print-side of a pocket folder.  Click the diagram to download a PDF for you to use in whatever graphic design program you have available.

If all you wanted was the PDF, then congratulations – you’re done!  BUT if you REALLY want to know more about the pieces and parts or a pocket folder, feel free to keep reading.

 

Anatomy of a Pocket Folder

Front & Back Panels/Covers:  In a “standard” pocket folder, these each measure 9" wide and 12" tall.  They are positioned side-by-side along a common folded edge called the “spine.”  Occasionally, one might add a “gusset” by adding a double score-line; separating the front and back panels 1/8" or more.  In these cases, you should remember that your pockets may require gussets as well.  Generally speaking, the gusset of the spine should be at least the sum of the gusset for each pocket.  (i.e., two 1/8" gusseted pockets would require a minimum 1/4" gusset for the spine.)

Pockets: With a 9"x 12" pocket folder, the standard pocket size is 9" wide and 4" tall. They are printed on the same side as the Front and Back Covers and fold up from the bottom.  When laying out your piece, remember to rotate the artwork 180° so it will be properly oriented on the finished folder.  Most die-lines for pockets include a V-notch along the middle to accommodate inserted materials, allowing the folder to properly close. The exactly position and angle of these notches can vary, so if you need "critical position" you may want to consult your print vendor.

NOTE: While a 4" pocket is standard, printers sometimes have access to other “standing die-lines” for things like vertical pockets or rounded pockets.  Check with your Sales Representative to see what other options are available without needing to spend extra money on a custom die-line. 

Glue Tabs:  Most pocket folders have "glued pockets" which are closed on one side by using "tabs." The tabs are created from extra cardstock extended from the Front or Back Cover, as shown in our diagram.  The tabs are cut with on a diagonal at the top and bottom, and scored along the face edge of the finished piece.  Measuring 1/2" to 3/4", you will want continue your image bleed across the score line, just as you would for any other bleed edge.   This will be covered by the actual pocket, but will hide any issues arising from bounce or misregistration anywhere along the manufacturing process.

Pocket Slits:  Pockets may have various slits cut into them to hold an assortment of additional materials.  The most common of these are Business Card slits; which allow a business card to be presented with the finished packet.  Typically these are created as 2 diagonal slits cut into the pocket on opposite corners of where the business card would go, although it’s not uncommon to see 4 slits (1 in each corner).  Round semi-circle (or half-moon) slits are sometimes used as well, either in the corners, or along the top and bottom of the positioned card.   Long horizontal barbell-style slits or rounded bar slits are also sometimes cut into the top edge of a pocket to hold CD/DVD sleeves or tri-fold brochures.

While this article only covers the most common pocket folder layouts, there are ENDLESS possibilities of standard or custom options available.   Feel free to contact any of our helpful and courteous Designers or Sales Representativesfor more information about what types of folders might be helpful to your company or organization.

 

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, Adobe InDesign tips, tips and tricks, printing services

Understanding Paper Weight... Mysteries Revealed!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 @ 02:27 PM

A few months ago we posted a 2-part Blog about Choosing the Right Paper but we still get a lot of questions about one VERY confusing topic:  Paper Weight and Thickness.

FACT: It’s complicated!

ANOTHER FACT:  It’s complicated for NO GOOD REASON!

Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t make sense.  There’s nothing wrong with you…  it’s just that there are a lot of terms used in the world of paper. Some of them mean the same thing, and some of them don’t.  But here’s the good news!  Universal Printing is FILLED with people who love paper, know paper, understand paper, and deal with paper DAILY; and we’re more than happy to share anything we know about it with YOU!

Paper Weight Comparison Chart

Here’s a handy-dandy comparison chart to help you figure which paper weights are equivalent.

Universal Printing's Paper Weights Chart 

Dying to know more?

For the sake of this blog, we’re not going to talk about color, shade, texture, finish, or anything else like that.  We’re JUST talking about weight and thickness.  But to start, we’ll break it down to 2 main categories:

Text  
“Regular” Paper

Bond
Writing
Ledger
Book
Offset
Multipurpose
Text

Cover
("Cardstock")

Cardstock
Cover
Index
Board
Bristol
Blanks
Tag

Weight and Thickness are DIFFERENT

The different classes of text or cover each come with their own “weight” determined by Basis Weight.  Basis Weight is the weight of 500 sheets, at the base size for that type of stock.  Bond or Writing paper has a Base Size of 17” x 22”, so if 500 sheets weighs 20lbs than it’s called 20# Bond or 20# Writing no matter what size it’s cut down to.  Offset and Text sheets have a Base Size of 25” x 38”, so if 500 sheets at that size weighs 50lbs, than it’s called 50# Offset or 50# Text.

You’ll notice, that in our comparison chart further down, the 20# Bond and 50# Offset are the same thickness, which now makes perfect sense, because the Base Size of Offset is over double the size for Bond… so the Basis Weight for Offset will also be more than twice the weight of Bond.

GSM – Grams per Square Meter

Whether you’re familiar with the metrics system or not, you probably know that it one of the principles is to keep the math simple and make all things equal.  GSM is the metric systems classification for paper, because they don’t care about how it’s made or what it’s used for. They just want to know a simple way to determine volume.  So one sheet of these same papers (20# Bond or 50# Offset) cut to 1 meter x 1 meter, will weigh 75 grams  (which is 75gsm…  grams per square meter).  Again, this isn’t a measure of thickness…. but generally speaking, the more grammage a single sheet has at a fixed size the more density it has, which often relates to thickness of the sheet (but can also involve bulk and manufacturing process).

Again… it can get very complicated.  If you’re interested in knowing even more, you’re welcome to explore some of our past blogs about paper.  Or you can always speak with any member of our helpful staff.

 

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, tips and tricks, commercial printing, printing services, business solutions, digital printing, offset printing

5 MORE sites every Graphic Design & Printing Professional should know

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, May 20, 2011 @ 03:24 PM

Our previous blog (6 sites EVERY Graphic Designer or Printing Professional should know) was so well received, that we decided to share five MORE. Check out these sites for even MORE tools and information!


dafont.com

If you're looking for JUST the right font for your next printing or graphic design project, your first stop should be dafont.com.  They are like the Facebook of Fonts, with a cool community atmosphere where typographers can share their latest creations and talk about type.  The Forums section allows you to interact with peers and professionals for help recognizing a font, or getting feedback on new fonts and logotypes. Plus, their grouping and categorizing of all those fonts makes it SO easy to find what you need.

 

graphicdesignforum.com

Maybe we're a little biased... but these guys have been linking to our templates and resources for years. It's an online community of talented designers and prepress professionals that share a wealth of knowledge. You can also get critiques on your current or past design projects. But it's not for the faint of heart; These guys are tough, fair, sometimes harsh, and the occasional newb will get pwned! But still, it's a great resource for finding answers to just about any question.

 

designiskinky.net

If there's ONE thing better than an irreverent Aussie, it's MANY irreverent Aussies that knows a helluva lot about ART! These guys have daily updates about anything and everything going on in art, print, web, and design. Just this past week they covered events in their native Australia, over in Morocco, an all the way up to Portland, Maine! They don't miss a beat, and neither should you!

 

howdesign.com

Most every design professional either currently HAS, or HAD a subscription to HOW Magazine. All of us at Universal Printing are proud supporters of paper; so while there's no substitution for the printed magazine in your hands, we can't deny the shear awesomeness of HOW's online presence. They have forums, blogs, tools, lessons, lists of events, and so much more.

 

psd.tutsplus.com

Who doesn't love Photoshop?!  EVERYONE knows how cool it is, but let's face it... unless you're a graphic designer or prepress professional with at least 5 years of solid experience, then you haven't even STARTED to scratch the surface. (And sorry, you Photoshop SE and Photoshop Elements users, but you're even FURTHER behind!) Fortunately, the folks at Psdtuts+ have a TON of easy-to-follow tutorials on every possible effect and technique. Definitely a "Must-Bookmark" for your browser.

 

 

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, tips and tricks, setting up your files, commercial printing, printing services, business solutions, product reviews

Is Printing Offshore a Good Idea, or Just Plain Lame?

Posted by Robert Moura on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 @ 02:59 PM

Offshore Printing - Just Plain Lame

We’ve noticed over the past several years that some of our clients have tried the offshore printing gig (like in China, for example.) As far as we can tell, they have all come back to buying locally with someone they can trust, have a face to face conversation with, and avoid experiencing any of the challenging cultural differences.

This experience has been both rewarding and frustrating for us. Frustrating because we usually don’t find out until a client has already printed overseas, been burned or let down, and then come back. Rewarding because they do come back, with similar stories and a realization that the trust, professionalism, quality and reliability we provide as a “given”, which they had previously taken for granted, has real value to their companies.

The most common issues we've heard are: longer than promised delivery times, unanticipated shipping expense, and customs tariffs and delays. Add poor quality, short count delivery, inferior packaging causing freight damage and spoilage, and the impossibility of making up those shortages in a timely fashion, and you’ve pretty well summed up the top challenges.  Communication is also usually sketchy but, somehow in the buyer’s mind, worth the allure of savings and the adventure of international intrigue! (P.S. The last thing we are told is that the savings never really materialized, which made the rest of the above even more painful for them to endure!)

Having lived overseas for over 15 years I understand that international trade is a good thing. Unfortunately, the printing industry is already highly commoditized in the U.S., despite including all the value benefits mentioned above. So the question becomes: Why would you want to go overseas, where you typically give up all the benefits your local printer offers and add all the risks? Not to mention, your work will probably be produced on equipment that the rest of the world has previously discarded.

I am sure that some may have different takes and experiences regarding offshore printing, but these are my experiences and my views for what they are worth. Let us know if you have any experiences, good or bad.

So if you want to “Think Globally and Act Locally” and be a contributor to your local economy — where your kids and ours go to school, your friends and family live, play, worship, and pay taxes  — then maybe you are on the team that thinks Offshore Printing is just plain lame!

Tchau for now!

Bob Moura

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, digital printing, offset printing

It's about CHOICE! Digital Printing vs. Offset Printing

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Apr 08, 2011 @ 12:03 PM

Helping you decide between Digital and Offset Printing

One of the advantages of being in business for over thirty years, is that we've seen a lot of exciting changes in the world of commercial printing and graphics communications. Computer-to-Plate (CTP) systems have made a huge impact in traditional offset printing, providing better printing plates capable of amazing image quality.  Our chemistry-free plating system develops on press which adds an incredible environmental benefits as well.  Technology has lead to major improvements in the areas of digital printing and copying also — using faster, more precise RIPS, and producing higher resolution output in shorter periods of time. When you add our GRACoL G7 processes into the mix, you get dynamic color which is repeatable and matches across ALL devices. Exciting stuff!

As proven experts in both Digital Printing and traditional Offset Printing, we have a great deal of experience and advice that we're more than happy to share with our clients. First, let's take a look at the advantages of each printing method:

Advantages of Digital

  • Lower cost per unit for shorter runs (no money tied up in plates or make-ready)
  • Faster turn-around times (no drying time required.)
  • Variable Data printing so each page can be unique
  • Instant Proofing, since each proof IS a print
  • Less waste since there's virtually ZERO make-ready


Advantages of Offset

  • Lower cost per unit for longer runs (Unit cost goes down as print quantity goes up)
  • Better Quality with higher image resolution (especially when combined with CTP, like we do!)
  • More paper options (Most digital devices require special papers and smooth finishes, which makes linen and laid finishes challenging or not possible)
  • Pantone Spot Color and Metallic Ink options (Not all colors can be built from CMYK, no matter how hard you try!)


Making your decision...

Once you've weighed all your options, it comes down to the needs and requirements of each unique project.  Digital is clearly the best option for small runs needed in a hurry, as long as you don't need special papers or spot colors.  If you have time, need a bunch, and have special corporate colors to match, you can't beat traditional offset.

Fortunately, while the choice is clearly yours, you never have to figure it out all alone.  You're always welcome to contact one of our knowledgeable Customer Service or Sales Representatives. They will always be happy to help you choose the best solution for your project, while meeting your budget and time-line.

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: commercial printing, printing services, digital printing, offset printing, G7, green printing, environmental responsibility, variable data

What Did YOU Learn about Full Color Printing Today?

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 @ 02:42 PM

 

“All I need are minds for molding.” – Jack Black (as Dewey Finn in School of Rock)

 

School of Rock promo picIf you haven’t seen the movie School of Rock, it’s about a man named Dewey Finn, hard rock singer and guitarist, who is kicked out of his band.  He disguises himself as a substitute teacher at a private prep school and forms a rock band from his fifth-grade students in order to compete in the upcoming Battle of the Bands.

Ok, that being said:

… I’m not as crazy or edgy as Jack Black
… and I wasn’t working grade school kids
… and we didn’t learn anything about Rock Music

But we WERE working on one of my favorite annual projects. 

Each Spring we print posters, flyers, and other materials for the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, a four-day festival of art, music, and dance held in Chatham County, NC and features  bands from all around the world.  Our friends at Shakori Hills are proud supporters of the arts and of the community. One of the ways they demonstrate both is in their work with the Digital Print Production class from Alamance Community College, who creates and designs these pieces as one of their class projects.

Denise Archuleta, professor of Advertising and Graphic Design, takes great care to ensure these students understand how to design and build their files FOR PRINT!  Part of their class project includes a field trip to Universal Printing for a tour of our company and to take part in their press proof.  During their visit got to learn all about who we are and what we do.  We talked about how printing works, the importance of color, and also our status as a G7 Master Printer and our sustainable print initiatives that help preserve the environment. 

These students are generally interested in listening to what we have to share,  and they’re always curious to see the Art Department and all of the computers, scanners, and output devices.  Field Trip photos: Follow us on FacebookWhen we enter the plate room, they start to get a little more interested: Curious about how we image directly onto the aluminum plates and such.

But then, it happens…  my favorite part of the tour; and it happens the same way every year.

We enter the Pressroom: A large, wide open space with 30ft ceilings, the humming and whirring of running machinery, and the sweet unforgettable scent of fresh ink. Eyes widen, lips curl into smiles, and these eager young minds are now FULLY engaged and ready to soak it all in.  I can’t help but get excited when these students start asking questions. You can almost see their minds churning, wanting to understand and learn.  Sure, we can “talk” about process color and how it works, but to actually show them single pulls of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, and let them see the ink keys on the press and how they affect the color THAT is when it all makes sense. For the rest of their stay they are “all in.” Even when they leave, you can see their smiles and hear them talking about everything they saw and everything they thought. 

As I said… it’s one of my favorite projects each year. All I need are minds for molding.

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, commercial printing, printing services, G7, green printing, environmental responsibility, color correction, master printer, calibration

6 sites EVERY Graphic Designer or Printing Professional should know

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Mar 04, 2011 @ 02:50 PM

These six websites are LOADED with great tools and information.  If they aren't bookmarked in your browser yet, they SHOULD be!


www.foldfactory.com

Trish Witkowski (self-described “Folding Fanatic”) is the driving force behind this creative informational site. If their handy InDesign plug-ins don’t interest you, maybe their YouTube Channel will.  It's full of creative ideas for custom folds that can make any of your design pieces standout from the pack.  They even have additional Fun Fold Facts available to impress and inspire you.

 

new.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont

Trying to figure out what font was used for that logo or headline?  Simply upload an image file of the type in question, and they will search their extensive library of fonts to find the closest matches along with links of where to the purchase them, if needed.  They also feature Hot New Fonts and a vast array of additional typography tools and resources.

 

www.universalprinting.com

Of COURSE we are going to toot our own horn a bit, but it’s our blog and we make the rules!  In all seriousness though… our traffic doesn’t lie, and the numbers of links and referrals we get only help support our belief that we have one of the most informative websites of any printing company out there today.  We have assembled a bunch of handy tools (like our Proportion Calculator, Folding Guides, and Envelope Diagrams) and our Blog continues to have more and more helpful hints and information.  In fact, feel free to fill out the Subscribe by Email form at the upper right of this page to have our blog posts delivered right to your inbox.

 

www.brandsoftheworld.com

These folks proudly claim “the world's largest library of brand logos in vector format available to download for free.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that!  It doesn’t matter whether you need the logo for AAA or ZhuZhu Pets or anything in between, these guys probably have it available as a vector file.

 

www.graphics.com

As host to several utilities, downloadable resources, and user forums, this website is a place where any graphic designer or graphic communications professional can submerge themselves in for hours.  Their forums are a great resource for sharing information, tips, and critiques (whether solicited or not!)  Their ever-changing gallery of images helps to get your creative juices flowing. They even have current job listings for Full-Time or Freelance Graphic Design positions available all across the country.

 

www.colorschemedesigner.com

Petr Staníček describes himself as a “professional designer and developer, amateur musician and bardling, dropout typographer, happy father of two beautiful daughters, mathemagician, lazy linguistician, and almost professional cook.”  To us, he’s the cool creator of this handy web app that does EXACTLY what it says: Helps you design color schemes.  Every graphic artist and web designer runs into a mental block at some point, trying to figure out new ways to make your pages stand out. This tools is very easy to use and when your satisfied with the results, you can export the palette as HTML or XML, or as an ACO to import right into Photoshop.

 

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, tips and tricks, setting up your files, commercial printing, printing services, business solutions, product reviews

These 5 Tips Will Make You a Better Proofreader!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 @ 10:30 AM

Let’s face it... NOBODY enjoys proofreading. Ok, maybe there’s a rare few that get a kick out of it from time-to-time, but nobody really "likes" it. Still, it’s a very important step in any graphic design project or page layout process, and one that sometimes gets overlooked. It’s easy to “pass the buck” on this, and assume someone else should have proofread; but anyone involved in putting files together for printing should take a moment to proof their work. Granted, I’m only talking about proofing for completion and accuracy. Grammar and punctuation can be addressed in someone else’s blog! For us, we just want to help get it on press quickly, and address any concerns BEFORE the project is plated and printed. These tips will help make your proofreading process a little easier.Focus on Proofreading your design project before going to press!

1)      Print it out – It’s way easier to read from paper than on screen (sorry Kindle and Nook people, but it’s true)

2)      Read it out loud to yourself – When you incorporate other senses it helps keep you from making assumptions about what you’re reading.

3)      Read it slowly – In fact, it’s helpful to run your finger along under the text to keep your eyes focused on each word one at a time

4)      Read out of sequence – If you’re proofing tables or charts, try reading in columns instead of rows. Also, sometimes taking paragraphs in reverse-order, or reading body copy separate from headings will keep you from making assumptions about what you’re reading.)

5)      Take extra care with special text – If you have special instances like fine-print, call outs, italicized type, and such, be sure to proofread them more than once.

6)      Double check small words – “or” “of” “on” and “it” “if” “is” are often interchanged without people realizing it.

7)      Watch out for homonyms – Spellcheck only checks spelling errors, not homonyms; so take extra care to check for instances like “their” “they’re” and “there.”

8)      Avoid fluorescent lights when possible Fluorescent lights are harder on your eyes and can lead to eye strain if you’re reading for a long period of time. If you can avoid it and there's a lot of text to proofread, try to take occasional breaks.

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, setting up your files, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions

Choosing Paper for Your Printing Project... Part 2

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 04, 2011 @ 03:00 PM

So you want to know even more about paper, eh?  I don't blame you. Our previous blog post went over some of the basics of paper, like the type of coating or finish, and caliper, weight and bulk.  This post will cover opacity, brightness, shade and grain. Let's get started!

Opacity is just a fancy way of saying the "show through" or "see though" quality of the paper: As in, how much will the printing on the other side of the page "show though." Some papers are categorized as "opaque" sheets, as opposed to "offset" or "bond" papers.   As a general rule, the thicker the paper, the less light gets though; however less bulky papers like vellum are thicker but less dense, leaving more chance for light (and printing) to come through.  Text-heavy projects like annual reports, manuals, or product brochures should be printed on paper with more opacity.

Next in line come brightness and shade.  It would sound like those are the same thing, but in reality they aren't. Brightness is the overall visual appearance of the sheet in terms of how much light they reflect. As you may recall, ink is slightly translucent, which means the brightness of the paper effects the brightness and vividness of the color. Brightness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100; which is to say a sheet measuring as 96 bright is more reflective than a 92 bright sheet.  

Shade refers to the whiteness of the paper. Don't be fooled and think we're talking about the color.  If the paper is light blue, dark blue, yellow, red, cream, natural, eggshell, that is its color. Shade is all about white: Blue White, Yellow White (also called Cream White), and True White.  Papers made with optical brighteners tend to have a cooler hue. These absorb warmer colors and give off more of a faint blue tint. Yellow white uses no brighteners and have a warmer more yellowish hue.  True white is a perfectly neutral sheet.

Boring Science Fact: White light is built of all colors (ROYGBIV) and travels in wavelengths. Blue light has a short wavelength and travels faster, while red and yellow light have longer wavelengths and travel slower. So a Blue White sheet appears to be visually brighter than a yellow white sheet because your eyes actually "see" it first!

Finally it's time to talk about Grain. We all know paper is made from trees, so it would stand to reason that if wood has a grain, so should paper!  In order to make paper, all these trees are ground down into fibers and mixed with water, resin and other stuff (which altogether is known as pulp) and run through huge paper machines that form them into large rolls. Between the speed these machines run and the process the paper pulp goes through, the fibers naturally all tend to line up in the same direction which is the grain direction.  Paper is then cut down, and can be either long grain or short grain. Long grain means the grain direction runs with the longest side, and short grain means it runs along the shortest side.  

The grain direction of your paper can play a very critical role in your project. You've likely heard the expression "going against the grain."  All paper is flexible, but it's always more flexible along the direction of the grain. This is important when thinking about folding projects. When you fold against the grain, the fibers break and crack, which appear ragged and less crisp.  This can easily be addressed by scoring a piece, which pre-creases the sheet and breaks down the fibers in a more controlled way.

Fortunately, we never expect our clients to know everything there is to know about paper.  If you need help picking paper for your project, please contact our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They’ll be more than happy to get you started.  We also get to work with some wonderful paper vendors that are always willing to assist with answering questions or providing samples of any paper you can imagine. 

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, direct mail, poster printing

Choosing Paper for Your Printing Project... Part 1

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 @ 12:30 PM

Paper comes in all colors, weights, and finishes; and sometimes our customers know EXACTLY what paper they want. More likely, we'll take in a project where the client won't have a clue what they want, or even need.

When choosing paper, we need to know some paper lingo. Let's start with the surface of the paper. Is it Coated or Uncoated? There are different types of coating, based on how shiny it is. Gloss is the smoothest and most reflective. It’s perfect for photos or flyers; anything that needs a quick visual POP. Matte is on the other end of the scale. It reflects very little light, so it’s easier on the eyes when reading text. Paper companies don’t have any rules for how they categorize coatings. There are a lot of in-between terms – Silk, Satin, Dull – but each is still coated and takes ink very well. Some papers are coated on one side and uncoated on the other, called C1S (for “coated 1 side”). With both sides coated it would be C2S, but it's generally just called Coated.

Uncoated sheets have different surfaces called Finish. Most common are Smooth, Vellum, Felt and Embossed. Again, some paper companies like to be fancy and come up names like “Super Smooth” or “Laser” to describe the finish of their paper. Ink lays down well on most of them, but you’ll want to be careful when using toner-based printers or copiers. This is especially true with Embossed papers like Linen (cross-hatched like fabric) or Laid (similar to corduroy) since the toner won’t sink into the deeper crevices of the paper.

Once you know what the surface is, you’ll want to figure out the thickness. This can get VERY confusing, since it involves three aspects: Caliper, Weight and Bulk.

Caliper is the actual thickness measured in mils (1/1000”) or points.  Paper that measures 0.010” thick is 10pt, 0.014” thick is 14pt, and so on.

Weight is the “basis weight,” which is how much 500 sheets weigh at a specific sheet size: 25” x 38” for text weights, and 20” x 26” for cover weights. If 500 sheets of 25”x38” paper weighs 80 lbs, that would be 80lb text and 500 sheets of 20”x26” cover weighing 100 lbs. would be 100lb cover. Often “lbs” is replaced with the “#” symbol, so 100 lbs = 100#. Get the idea? Good! Let’s move on.

Bulk is the overall density of the paper. Like how the metric system measures “mass” instead of weight (on the moon you would weigh less, but your mass still takes up the same amount of space.) It’s a formula that considers Caliper and Weight.  In simple terms, thicker sheets have more bulk. Also, coated sheets have less bulk then uncoated sheets, which helps explain why 100# coated cover feels much thinner and less stable than 100# uncoated cover.

Next, paper is classified into two categories: Text and Bond. Cardstock has more categories: Bristol, Index, Cover and Board. Bond or Writing is your general multipurpose paper. It ranges from copier-grade 20# bond all the way up to nice fancy resume-type papers like 28# writing. Text is what’s often used for books, newsletters, flyers, etc. Here’s where confusion starts… in terms of thickness 50# text is equal to 20# bond, 60# text equals 24# bond, 70# text equals 28# bond, and so on.

Bristol, also called Vellum Bristol, is a lightweight cardstock. The surface is a little rougher since it isn’t compressed when it gets made. It feels a little thicker, even though it’s not as dense. This makes it less expensive and is often used for mailers and single-use pieces. Index is smoother and feels thinner and is often used for tabs, file folders – and you guessed it – Index Cards!

Cover is the general usage term for most cardstock weights. It’s usually made to match their companion text weights, so it is usually used for newsletters and books so all the text and cover sheets in the same piece would match. Board is used mostly for display pieces, pocket folders, posters, etc. Unlike other stocks, which are listed by weight, Board is generally selected by thickness (10pt, 12 pt, etc.)

There are so many paper choices available and every single one of them is just waiting for a printer like us to start slapping some  ink on them. We love paper – we love, love, love it. If you need help picking paper for your project, please contact our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They’ll be more than happy to get you started.

Also check out Part 2: Opacity, Brightness, Shade and Grain.

 

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Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
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