Buyer's Guide: Paper and paper sizes
Buyers Guides

Buyer's Guide: Paper and paper sizes

Like the quality of your products or services, the paper you choose says something about your business. But, how do you know what the best paper to use is? To ease the headache, we’ve cracked all the confusion so you can perfect your paper game.

How to choose paper weight

When choosing paper for your office, consider what you’re going to use it in and who is going to be the end user. Standard paper is fine for internal use, while heavier paper will add a quality feel to client proposals.

Paper is measured in GSM – ‘Grams per Square Meter’. This means how many grams one single sheet of paper weighs measuring 1m x 1m. So which is thicker? And which is best for your task at hand?

Weight Use
80 – 100gsm Your standard office paper – ideal for low quality printing, photocopying or faxing.
110 – 120gsm Stationery paper for business documents such as letterheads, compliment slips or booklets.
130 -170gsm Most durable paper often used for leaflets, flyers, posters and pages inside brochures.
170 – 200gsm Anything above 170gsm is generally classed as cardboard. Great for brochure or magazine covers, high-end posters and impressive double-sided flyers.
200 – 250gsm This is going into the heavier cardboard category and makes for a top-quality brochure cover. Also used for postcards.
300 – 400gsm Now in board territory, this is the perfect business card weight and can also be used as brochure covers (although this will require more stitching and folding to accommodate the thickness).
400gsm and above If you’re going for gold with your business cards, this thickness provides a luxury finish and definitely gives a feeling of quality.


Finding the perfect finish

This is what the final paper product looks and feels like. It mainly comprises two categories – smooth and textured.

  • Smooth paper is great for businesses and can be used on anything from personal stationery to letterheads.
  • Textured is good for wedding stationery, brochures, covers, business letterheads and up-market restaurant menus.

Depending on what you’re printing, you may also be asked whether you want a matt or glossy finish.

  • Gloss gives a luxe shine and makes colours sharper and more contrasted, which is perfect for full-colour magazines, brochures, leaflets and super slick business cards.
  • Matte can be equally as luxe, giving a soft satin finish that feels smooth to touch. The less shiny finish also makes for better readability, which is ideal for most printed communications.

What about paper size?

Paper sizes are graded from small (for example, A8) to large (A0 and then onto B, C, D sizes) in reverse order. This means A8 is smaller than A7, A7 is smaller than A6 and so on. Paper sizes, like weights and finishes, vary for each task at hand. The A series is the most common, with A4 being the standard size for documents.

As well as your standard mm measurements of paper sizes, you’ll find that paper can also be measured in pixels. Rather than its physical properties, this is based on how it appears on your screen. However, sizes will differ depending on the quality of your screen’s resolution, known as dots per inch (dpi). The most common resolutions tend to be:

  • High resolution (HR) – 300dpi
  • Low resolution (LR) – 72dpi

What paper is best for what job?

Now you have a better idea of the different types of paper available, you need to decide which is best for the job at hand. We’ve taken a look at a few of the key aspects of printing.

Product GSM Paper size
Standard document 80 – 100gsm A4
Business document 110 – 120gsm A4
Magazines 170 – 200gsm A4/A5
Business cards 300 – 400gsm A8
Flyers 130 -170gsm A5
Brochures 200-250gsm A4/A5
Posters 130 -170gsm A0-A1,B0-B2
Book 130 -170gsm A4-A6, B3-B5
Envelope 110 – 120gsm Any C size


Choosing the best paper for your printer

If you’re sending  printed literature to prospective clients, promoting events using flyers and posters, or creating client presentations to hand out at important meetings, it’s reassuring to know you’ve used the right type of paper for the job. Here, we take a look at the various papers you should opt for according to the types of printing you need to do.

What’s the best paper for inkjet printers?

Inkjet printers work by spraying liquid ink onto the page at a high velocity, which means the best paper to use in an inkjet printer is more absorbent than standard paper. Using purpose made inkjet paper will help to avoid smudging on your documents and will ensure that all your prints dry quickly.

Is laser paper right for my business?

Of all printer paper types, laser paper is usually the thickest. It is produced specifically to be used in laser printers and has a special surface coating that allows the toner powder to adhere to it when exposed to the high temperatures created by the printer.

Laser printing is excellent for producing high quality documents, making it the perfect type of paper for printing presentation hand-outs. Although it can be a little more expensive than standard printer papers, laser paper lets you create a quality, elegant finish on public-facing or client-facing documents.

Do I need specialist photo paper?

For the greatest results on photo printing, an inkjet printer rather than a laser printer will provide you with the highest quality products. Inkjet printers are capable of producing much more detailed colour images and – for the highest quality results – you should also invest in specialist photo paper.

Photo paper is sold in a range of finishes, with some papers delivering a semi-glossy end product, and others a subtle sheen. Whether you want eye-catching high-gloss flyers or mellow coloured posters, the best paper for photo prints will depend on personal taste.

What’s the best printer paper for everyday use?

It’s always a wise idea to keep an eye on how much is spent on consumables in your business. Ink, paper and postage costs can mount up unless you conduct regular audits to mark where the money is going.

If you print a high volume of internal documents that don’t need to be of an exceptionally high standard, copier paper is a good alternative to laser, photo or inkjet paper. Economical and sold in reams, copier paper products do the job without incurring unnecessary expense.

What about recycled or environmentally friendly paper?

Like low-emission vehicles, car share schemes and ‘switch-off’ policies, buying recycled paper can be a great way to go greener.

  • Recycled paper. Improvements in technology mean that modern recycled paper is practically indistinguishable from standard paper in terms of quality of finish and performance. Collecting and converting recycled paper means that it is more expensive to produce, but the use of post-consumer content means less waste is sent to landfill and the removal of chlorine products from the production process makes it kinder to the environment.
  • FSC certified paper. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit group committed to promoting the responsible management of our forests. They set high standards that ensure forestry is conducted in a way that is environmentally sound, benefits the community and is economically sustainable.


Make sure that your file is sized for the correct paper size before you go to print. Resizing can cause display issues such as pixilation (when each pixel can be seen creating a fuzzy, unsightly result) or elements that bleed (extend beyond the edge) of the page. Don’t forget to prepare your file and print job ahead of time – the last thing you need on a tight deadline is printing delays.