Digital Paper Primer

By on February 27th, 2013 in How to

With more and more authors and editors choosing to print their books digitally, questions pertaining to digital printing and paper seem to crop up daily.   Advancements in digital technology give you more paper options than ever before, but with these changes, also comes some confusion—coated, uncoated, matte, caliper, C1s… all these terms can be confusing to those new to printing.

To make things even more confusing, every printer uses different terminology and stocks different paper grades,paper quote depending on their equipment and preferences.  If you’re quoting your project with PG, here are some terms you’ll likely see:

Covers:  for softcover books, we offer a few standard options for your book covers.   C1s refers to a heavier coated or glossy stock that is coated on one side.  We stock a 10 pt (point) and 12 pt, with a 12 pt slightly heavier and more durable.   Caliper is the measurement of the thickness of the paper. It is now listed on our site next along with the PPI.  PPI is the method used to calculate the spine thickness. 

Although not listed, we can also customize your book with specialty stocks.  The book pictured below has an uncoated 100# cover called Classic Columns, manufactured by Neenah Paper.   If you select your own stock, just be sure it is digitally compatible and guaranteed to work on a digital press.

Uncoated stocks with textured finishes must be digitally compatible.
Uncoated stocks with textured finishes must be digitally compatible.

Text:    50#, 60# or 70# weights are the most common options.  Anything under 50# is generally a newsprint grade and not suitable for digital printing due to its high dust content. If you’re looking to reduce costs, opt for a 50# weight, which will reduce the overall weight of the book and lower shipping costs.

One caution:  If you have imagery or heavy solid ink coverage, be aware of opacity or “show-through” with lighter weight sheets.  When you have image content, be safe and go with a 70# or 80# weight.   Heavier weight paper also offers a tactileness and substance to your book that contributes to its overall aesthetic appeal.

If your project is a textbook or workbook, select the heavier 70# or 80# weight so they stand up to continual wear and page-turning.

Colored papers are good options as well.  In addition to several shades of white, we offer a subtle off-white or natural color that can help warm up your book.  Alternatively, a white coated or glossy sheet has a harder surface which makes color photography pop on the page.

Color, texture, and weight of paper all communicate subtle messages to the reader.  If possible, always try to consider your paper choices early in the design process.  Remember that paper can dramatically affect not only the budget, but the overall aesthetic of your book.  As always, give us a call or “chat” with us online if you have questions.

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