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How to Choose the Right Paper

We understand that each printed item that represents your business is unique and that the paper these items are printed upon, impart part of that which you want to convey. Paper selection is also one of the key factors impacting both the cost and the final printed quality of your project. Because of this, we have included detailed information about the papers we use and the specifications of those papers, along with some general information about printing papers. For instance, this guide should help you determine the appropriate brochure paper stock. If after reading this section, you still don't know the paper used for brochures or you still need more information and want to see first-hand the choices you have, we can mail you a FREE book with paper samples by clicking here. Also, we are always glad to talk with you and help you make the best paper selection for your print projects.

Preferred Paper

We take pricing as well as performance, seriously. And we have our paper specially formulated to best perform with our state-of-the-art equipment. This yields our customers an unmatched result in the industry for quality, speed, and value.

Since we can count on our paper's performance in terms like ink absorption, drying time, cutting ease, and feeding accuracy, the typical processing waste is nearly eliminated. This saves time and paper, as well as offers a consistency in color matching and vivid color performance for our most meticulous clients who demand the best.

Naturally, we purchase this paper in large quantities and always have it on hand in all our facilities. By always having Preferred Paper ready, we can give our customers accurate (and faster) delivery times, saves on shipping costs to acquire specific paper that is typically inferior (and which the end user can't distinguish an advantage to holding), and increase the desirability of the final product by adding features to the paper, such as coatings and folds.

What paper is best for my project?

Paper weight

The most fundamental paper characteristic you should consider is paper weight. For example, think about what characteristics a postcard should have. First and foremost, there are postal regulations that define the minimum paper thickness at .007 inches for postcards. A postcard must also be thick enough to allow it to move easily through postal equipment, and be durable enough to stand up to machine and human handling. This means that you must use a cover weight paper for postcards. Although other paper types might be acceptable for postcards, we offer postcards on a 12 point C2S (coated 2 sides) cover weight paper because this paper meets USPS specifications, and provides a durable, attractive substrate for your postcard projects.

Caliper, or the measured thickness of paper, is another important specification. In most cases, caliper is related to weight, but not always. Sometimes, a paper may be the same basis weight as another paper, but its caliper could be greater or smaller than the comparable sheet. A micrometer may be used to measure the caliper of a paper. If in doubt, it’s always best to measure!


It is important to consider for text weight papers, as heavy ink coverage may lead to show-through. Your best bet for reducing show-through is to select 100# coated text weight paper for your brochure, flyer, or catalog printing projects.

Other factors to consider are grain direction, coating, and ink.


Brochures are typically folded, with the “tri-fold” brochure being the most popular. Therefore, brochure paper should be thin enough to be easily folded, but thick enough to feel substantial, and have enough opacity to not allow show-through. We recommend that brochures be printed on a gloss coated 100# text weight paper for best results.


Catalogs are generally printed on text weight paper for ease of folding and stapling, but also to minimize postage costs when mailed. We recommend that catalogs be printed on a coated 100# text weight paper for best results. Catalogs can either be self-cover, where the text and cover are both printed on text weight paper, or they can be plus-cover, where the cover is printed on a heavier cover weight paper. Self-cover catalogs tend to be more cost-effective, while plus-cover catalogs are desirable when extra durability of the cover is required. Catalog covers are typically printed on a 100# cover paper.

Business cards

Business cards are almost always printed on 14 point coated or uncoated cover weight paper, since durability is important when people handle, collect, and keep business cards for long periods of time. We also offer a slightly thinner 13 point uncoated paper that contains 100% post-consumer recycled content for those who want to make the most environmentally-friendly paper choice.


After paper weight, brightness is probably the next most important characteristic. In full-color printing, a brighter paper will generally provide a sharper, more pleasing printed result versus a less bright paper. We use papers with a brightness ranging from 88 to 96, ensuring a crisp vibrant printed image.

Sample it for yourself!

We would like to have you see and feel this unique product for yourself. Please contact customerservice@kingstonprinting.com and request a handy FREE paper sample book which features color, printed, Preferred Stock samples in each of our coating configurations and thicknesses.

Grain direction

Grain direction can have an impact on how flexible your printed piece will be. This is especially true for postcard printing, because the postcard will be less flexible if the grain direction is parallel to the longer dimension of the postcard. We can’t guarantee grain direction, since we may need to change grain direction in order to facilitate folding, fit to the press sheet, or other finishing operations. 


There are two main types of paper coating. The first type of coating is the coating that is applied to the paper at the mill before the image is printed on the paper. These manufacturer-applied coatings may be glossy, dull, or somewhere in between. Our standard products are printed on glossy coated paper. This glossy paper coating improves the printed appearance of images when compared to uncoated paper, because the coatings allow for better ink control on the press.

The second type of coating is applied after the image is printed on the paper. These coatings are typically water-based coatings and are called aqueous coatings. Like the manufacturer-applied coatings, these coatings may be glossy, dull or somewhere in between. Aqueous coatings can only be applied to manufacturer-coated paper, as the aqueous coating will tend to soak into an uncoated paper, and not be noticeable. Aqueous coatings further improve the final printed appearance, increase durability while reducing ink smudging, and allow the printed sheets to be handled and finished sooner. Aqueous coatings reduce the time required for ink drying.

Comparison of relative gloss/shine of coatings from most glossy/shiny to least glossy/shiny:

Gloss UV > Gloss Aqueous > No Coating > Satin Aqueous > Matte (Dull) Aqueous

We offer a number of different coatings that can be applied after the image is printed on the paper:

Gloss Aqueous Paper Coating

This is a shiny, glossy water-based coating applied to the press sheet in-line on the printing press.

Satin Aqueous Paper Coating

This is a water-based coating that is somewhat less glossy and shiny than a Gloss Aqueous coating.

Matte Aqueous Paper Coating

Also known as a Dull Aqueous Coating, this is a water-based coating that is somewhat less glossy and shiny than a Satin Aqueous coating.

UV Paper Coating

UV paper coatings are polymer-based coatings that offer the maximum durability for items such as postcards, brochures, and catalog covers. The UV paper coating is applied to the sheet and is cured instantly by exposure to ultraviolet light.

No Paper Coating

There will not be any coating applied to the printed piece.

Custom Paper Coatings

We also offers special custom coating options for certain projects:

Strike Through Varnish

This is a technique that allows photos or other areas of interest on the page to have the appearance of higher gloss when compared to the other areas. This is accomplished by using a gloss coated paper, and applying a special dull spot varnish to the text areas or other areas of lower interest in the layout. Then a flood of gloss aqueous coating is applied to the entire press sheet. The result is a high gloss on the photos or other areas of interest on the page.

Soft Touch Aqueous Paper Coating

This is a special aqueous coating that imparts a soft, thick feel in the hands with a rich matte appearance. Like other aqueous coatings, it is water-based, environmentally friendly, and is applied in-line on the printing press. Best results are achieved by printing on a high-quality gloss coated printing paper.

Please note that due to differences in product specifications, not all coatings are appropriate for all products. We do not recommend applying coating to an uncoated printing paper.

Please call us at 785-690-7222 if you are interested in learning more about these special custom coating options.

What about ink?

Ink is another factor in the paper selection process. We use vegetable-based inks that are more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based inks, and also provide sharper, cleaner printed color. Our inks undergo stringent quality-control testing that helps ensure that ink color characteristics are consistent from project to project.

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