The Digital Lizard Blog

Picking the Right Stock for Your Print Project

Submitted by Janice O'Driscoll on January 18, 2017 at 12:45 PM

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Producing print is a great opportunity. Not simply a means to “get your message out,” print lets you engage, inform, inspire, and sell in ways no other media can. Whereas electronic communications may depend on audience-controlled screen sizes or preferences, print puts the power in the hands of the author. Paper stock is a big part of this.

As you spec your next job, make a choice to match these goals:

1. The right stock enhances design. If you’re producing a text-heavy piece, go with matte or uncoated stock to improve readability. If images are key, choose gloss (and coatings). To make your design “pop,” opt for bright whites over softer shades. If you’re doing offline finishing, such as foils, laminates, and die cutting, increase your stock weight. But these are just some basics. A comic-style piece might be catchier on newsprint. A piece about corporate transparency could include translucent pages before financials. Or perhaps your design mimics a journal or notepad. You can save money with an economical uncoated stock, while complementing your design. Think through how your layout is affected by stock choice, and discuss options with your supplier.

2. The right stock attracts attention. In today’s flood of communications, marketers and entrepreneurs are looking for ways to stand out. Tactile appeal of specialty paper stock can get the ever-valuable second look that drives sales. When it’s unexpected, it can be even more powerful. Several magazines (i.e., Wired, Fantastic Man) use matte/satin or textured coated to boost appeal. If you’ve always produced a piece on a particular stock, liven things up with a different caliper or finish. Check out Mohawk Maker Quarterly Issue 8 for some novel ideas. 

3. The right stock builds an image. The weight, feel, and look of paper stock can exude powerful sentiments. Consider how you want to be perceived. If you’re selling a high-end product or service, go with a stock that says the same. If you want to appear “wallet-friendly,” back it down to a #2 or #3 grade. For a non-profit or philanthropic organization, print decisions can be more difficult. You don’t want to look shoddy, as you’ll lose credibility. But you can’t look like you’re spending all your donations on flashy print either. Individual materials such as annual reports and sustainability guides can also be tricky, as you need to balance great replication with judicious thinking. We stock loads of great-printing, cost-efficient papers. Ask your CSR for samples.

4. The right stock saves you money. Publishers and catalogers spend significant time determining the right stock. With high page counts and quantities, a #10 different gauge can change binding and postage costs dramatically. This principle holds true for marketing materials and direct mail as well, where added weights (in envelopes or not) can boost rates. Even if you’re not mailing pieces individually, the final weight of your shipping boxes will affect transport. If you’re looking to trim costs, this is a good place to start. With a few calculations, Digital Lizard can help you find breakpoints you may not have considered.  

5. The right paper stock reinforces a commitment. Finally, your substrate can underscore a value. Symbolize “diversification” with flecked or colored stock. Highlight “tradition” with deckled edge parchment. What about showcasing environmentally friendly practices? Boast sustainability with recycled, recyclable, or even tree-free (bamboo or cotton) stock. Throw in mouse type on the back of your piece — and FSC or SFI copy and logos — to help draw the connection. Your stock can show that you really are committed to a value, instead of just saying it.

Indeed, deciding on a paper stock isn’t as easy as picking “whatever’s cheapest.” Done wisely, it can raise impact, capture new prospects, improve your image, and save you money. Examine the possibilities before you print. Even pieces you’ve done for years can benefit from new thinking.

Looking for an intriguing stock to coordinate with a novel design? Need to shave postage costs off your next mailing? Digital Lizard offers loads of intriguing and economical paper stocks that can perfectly match your needs. Call 866.494.6155 today or click below for more information.

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