How to choose the best paper for your message and brand


When it comes to methods of modern communication, sometimes paper can seem like a vestige of the past. We tend to get caught up in the digital words and graphics of our modern world.  

But what about the power of the tactile?

The impact of giving your customer something to touch and experience?

When you allow your customer to hold onto something, you might just make a multi-sensory first impression – and they do say those are the most important.

Paper is almost as important – if not more important – than the design that is printed on it. That’s why we believe that choosing the best paper for your message & brand is critical.

We’ve spent years learning how to use this ageless medium to the advantage of your brand, and we know that when it comes to paper, there are two categories that are the most important:


  • Weight
  • Finish



Weight is linked to thickness, so generally, the thicker the paper, the higher the weight. For reference, copier paper is referred to as 60# text, while business cards would be printed on what we call 100# cover.

Typically, the higher the #, the more impressive your message will look.

Note: Paper weight is sometimes stated using the “#” symbol. For example, “20#” means “20 pounds per basis ream of 500 sheets.”

As for the thickness – in general, the more a sheet of paper weights, the thicker and/or stiffer it is. 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

At Pel Hughes, we can print on anything from 24# bond to 130# cover.


Finish has to do with the final texture of the paper. The most popular finishes are high-gloss, semi-gloss, silk, and uncoated. After the product is printed on the paper of your choice, additional finishes can be added such as spot gloss or soft-touch.

Coated finishes are treated with a sealant that lends them specific characteristics, such as high level of glossiness and a stiffer feel. This coating gives papers a waxy finish with a varying degree of shine, provides protection from wear and tear, and reduces the level of ink that a sheet can absorb.

Coated paper is ideal for:

  • Brochures
  • Catalogs
  • Postcards
  • Packaging
  • Photography
  • Magazines
  • Art books

Uncoated finishes have an untreated surface and are often less reflective than coated finishes. These papers usually lend a softer look to projects because the ink is absorbed into the paper, which diffuses its vibrance. Embossing often works best on uncoated papers because their finishes are softer and are less likely to crack. Their lack of coating also makes them easier to write on, making them ideal for use as:

  • Letterheads
  • Newsletters
  • Envelopes
  • Stationery

Both coated and uncoated papers have a range of finishes to choose from, but you’ll usually find more variety when it comes to texture with uncoated stocks.

Can you believe that these are just the basics?! There are so many weight and texture options that it would make your head spin. If you’re not sure what weight and finish to go with and want to explore your options – we’re happy to help!

Contact Pel Hughes today to get started on your printing needs!