Not all paper was created equal.

The type of paper you decide to use in your print jobs can drastically affect the overall impression of your brand. On the other hand, if you use an expensive paper for something that will be used internally, it can be an unnecessary expense. Many business owners don’t know what paper grammage means. 

Knowing which paper grammage to choose when ordering your products can spell the difference between a product that stands the test of time, and one that wilts when it is passed from one person to the next.

Paper with a lighter weight is best suited for specific applications. While thicker, heavier paper is better for others. Knowing the ideal GSM for your paper product can help you avoid spending unnecessary money on something that does not even . So, what exactly is ‘GSM’, and which paper grammage is best for which product?

The best way to know for sure that you’re ordering the right paper – our free paper sample booklet. Only pay for delivery, and get your money back in store credit on the first order. Are you a print reseller? We have an unbranded version too. No strings attached. While stocks last.

What Exactly Is Paper Grammage?

GSM stands for ‘grams per square meter’. And means just that – the higher the GSM, the thicker and sturdier the paper. The weight of various types of paper is measured from a sample sheet cut to one square meter in size. No matter the length or width the paper becomes, the weight measurement is always taken from the square meter sheet.

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To give you an idea, most newspapers are printed on 55gsm – this is 45gsm lighter than your regular copier paper! Postcards, business cards and product tags are usually printed on 350gsm. This gives these items the strength to withstand lots of handling. If you plan to take it out of your wallet or handle it often, this is the paper you need.

blank paper

Matt VS Gloss: What’s The Difference?

Almost every grammage of paper is available in either matt or gloss. The difference? Gloss paper is typically used for flyers and brochures because of its high shine. As the ink dries well there is no need for a seal varnish as the ink does not rub off. For those more aesthetic items, such as business cardsevent posters, or folded leaflets and pamphlets, gloss tends to be the more exciting option, as the slight shine should give your collateral a little more ‘pop’ and a classier feeling.

Matt paper is the opposite to gloss. It is coated with a matt finish to produce a paper and has little to no shine, which prevents glare. This makes it the ideal paper for products that you don’t want too much reflection to bounce off of. It’s also perfect for those who wish to write on their printed collateral, such as letterheads, posters, and flyers with form fields.

Is Gloss Always Better?

Gloss paper does tend to get all the credit for looking high-quality. But this is not actually always the case. If the design is tacky or the paper will be used for something that really doesn’t warrant a gloss paper, the effect could be the opposite. It really all comes down to what you will be using the paper for, what effect you want it to achieve, and how well you design it. (For more tips on creating the best design possible, check out our blog post on Design Do’s and Don’ts)

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Which Paper Grammage is Best for you?

Find out the quick way – simply order your free paper sample booklet!

Understanding GSM paper weight should make your choice easier when it comes to selecting options on our printed products. When it comes to our printed and marketing materials, no one wants a cheap or sub-par looking product. Therefore, it is always a good idea to choose the paper grammage that best illustrates the value you provide.

The 90-120 gsm range

Everyday office copier and printer paper tends to be 80-100gsm. This is a commonly used paper known as offset paper. It takes colour well due to its high brightness and uncoated rough surface and can be printed and written on over and over again.

We recommend 100gsm and upwards for the following products:

  • Posters
  • Flyers
  • Brochures
  • Folded leaflets/pamphlets

This is neither too thick or thin, and is the perfect balance between quality and affordability for these particular items.

The 130-170gsm range

This type of paper provides the best paper weight for posters and the UV resistance. For notepads, inner pages should be 80gsm bond (copier paper), with a cover of 170gsm upwards. This means your cover will be sturdy, and your inner pages will be perfect for writing.

Booklets, on the other hand, should have 250gsm covers, with 100gsm inner pages. This will keep the cover sturdy, while the inner pages stay light yet strong (think magazines). The same can be said for calendars – these need to be relatively sturdy. If you plan to write on your deskpad calendar, stick to a matt finish.

The 200-300gsm range

This range offers a nice thick sturdy paper with a weighty look and feel. It’s not quite card, but is starting to provide a heavier finish. You may want to opt for lighter weight printed products if you’re considering direct mail campaigns (the paper weight chosen could impact upon your delivery costs).

The 300-400gsm range

This excellent quality stock is impressively thick, standing up under its own weight and will certainly deliver an impact. If it’s a superior finish that you’re looking for, then 300-400gsm paper weight will prove a good choice. We recommend using 350gsm paper for the following products:

  • Business cards
  • Postcards
  • Tags
  • Presentation Folders

The result will be an incredibly robust, strong and durable product – the kind of product that will last.

The Basic Terminology.

When ordering your prints at your online printing company, you may come across some basic terminology for paper. Here’s a quick list of different paper names and what they are used for most regularly.

Bond paper
  • Office copiers, printers, letterhead, and stationery
  • Lighter-weight bond paper for faxes, printing emails, tracing, and use in high-speed copiers
  • Mid-weight bond paper for reports, presentations, double-sided printing, legal documents, and proposals
  • Heavier-weight bond paper for double-sided printing, presentations, signs, fliers, contracts, and resumes
Book paper
  • Print books
  • Booklets
  • Catalogues
  • Magazine publications
  • Posters
Cover paper
  • Business cards
  • Door hangers
  • Menus
  • Invitations
  • Postcards
  • Rack cards
  • Report covers
  • Self-mailers
  • Sketching
Index paper
  • Index cards
  • Postcards
  • Tabs and dividers
  • Manila folders
  • Sketchbooks


Business Cards

Sample Whenever You Can!

Getting the paper weight right can be a difficult decision, but it’ll make all the difference to the final quality of the product. To help you make the right choices when choosing your printed products, check out our free paper booklet (you only pay for delivery) to get a real feel for all the different paper options we offer. But hurry! There are only 50 available, so get one while stocks last. By the way, you will get the R99.00 back in a store voucher on your first order.

The Bottom Line

Even though you may not be 100% familiar with printing, it’s always a good idea to know the basics. This will ensure you know exactly what you will receive after placing your order.

You can order any of the above products via the Printulu website. If you have any questions, you can call our customer care line on (010) 593 0558, or pop us a mail to support@printulu.co.za. One of our awesome customer care agents will be happy to help!

Happy printing!

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