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Making the Grade

Choosing paper grades for desktop publishing


Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Some diplomas are printed on parchment. | Explore the Paper Glossary

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

You've designed the perfect printed piece. But now you need to put it on paper. Which paper? Hopefully you considered the kind of paper you needed before even starting your design project. If not, or if you are just getting started, here's a look at your primary paper options, regardless of the color, size, or finish for your printed masterpiece.

Unless you are really into paper, a recitation of the various paper grades won't be nearly as helpful to you as choosing a paper based on the project. Find your project (or the closest match) from the list below to see what grade of paper is usually used for that type of document. Then go to the page describing the recommended paper grade to learn more about it.

Of course, you are always free to be different and choose another kind of paper but these are generally safe choices. Always discuss your paper needs with your paper supplier and your printer as early in the project as possible. Paper grade is only the first step in narrowing down your specific paper needs. You'll also want to explore paper finishes and colors.

This chart applies primarily to projects for commercial not desktop printing although some of these papers are available in inkjet/laser safe versions.

Other types of paper not specifically covered here include coated and uncoated, manifold, onionskin, and safety papers.


Project Suggested Paper Grade
Annual Report Book
Bible Bible
Book or Manual Book
Book/Catalog Cover Cover | Bristol
Booklet Book
Brochure Book
Business Card Cover
Business Reply Card Index
Business Form Bond
Catalog Catalog
Certificate Parchment | Book
Comic Book Newsprint
Dictionary Bible
Diploma Parchment | Book
Directory Newsprint | Catalog
Fine Art Print Acid Free | Archival
Greeting Card Papeterie | Cover
Letterhead Bond
Limited Edition Print Acid Free | Archival
Newsletter or Magazine Book | Bond
Newspaper Newsprint
Presentation Folder Bristol | Cover
Rate Book Bible
Scrapbook Acid Free | Archival
Stationery Bond | Book | Papeterie
Tag (Hanging) Tag | Bristol
Wedding Invitations Bristol | Cover
(buy/sell/trade mags, etc.)
Newsprint | Catalog

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