Why does Copy Express have so many different papers for printing?

Posted on April 20th, 2018 | Tags: Technical

If you looked at the different options of paper and card weights on our web to print site and wondered why we give you all these options. 100gsm, 170gsm, 200gsm, 300gsm and more. If you look at other online printers, they limit you to one or two choices of papers and card. And what difference does printing a flyer on card make over a paper apart from price? This article we will do a quick rundown on the standard papers and card why we give them to you as options.
 (If you haven’t looked at our web to print site you should right now to see all the cool things we do.)
Now we have spoken about this subject before. Our articles The Weighty Matter of GSM and Coated vs. Uncoated Paper go into detail about this subject but I thought it was time to do a quick refresher and update in light of our current print technology. 
Now all paper is rated on its weight. How many grams it weighs per square meter, or GSM. This does not define it’s thickness or stiffness. You can get two identical 250gsm sheets of card, and one will bend a lot more easier than the other because it’s designed to go through the tight curves of a toner printer. Likewise 130gsm coated paper is thinner than 80gsm copy paper because it’s processed to a much higher finish with finer pulp fibers. That in mind here’s a few basic rules of thumb when it comes to papers.
Paper types

Coated vs. Uncoated 

Coated will always be thinner and ‘softer’ than the uncoated of the same weight because it’s processed to a higher finish and has the weight of the coating applied to it to make the print brighter included in the total weight. Uncoated prints will be ‘softer’ but the paper has more natural feel and can be bit stiffer.

Digital vs. Offset papers

Offset papers are always a little bit thicker and stiffer than the same weight digital papers. This is because they have to absorb the wet inks while following a quite flat paper path as they are being printed. Digital papers need to be more flexible to get around the tight curves of laser print systems, but they can also be thinner too as the image stays on the surface of the paper.

White vs. Coloured 

Once upon a time, when you wanted some colour in your printing you would have pay for metal plate to be made for each colour and each colour was a particular one so no fancy blending of shades. (Like picking colours for paints). This was expensive and time consuming to setup and to print accurately, so a quick and cost effective way to add colour was to print on coloured paper. These days, the advancement of print technology has rendered this solution pointless as it’s now often cheaper to print in full colour than to pay the extra cost in coloured paper. Most on demand printers will still carry a small selection of coloured paper if you want it.

Plain vs. Textured

All the papers you see at Copy Express have extremely smooth finishes to ensure the printing has the maximum surface to bond to and get a consistent colours with our dry toner based print system. Textured papers need to be printed with a wet system, like inkjet printers, as the ink has to flow in to the valleys of the paper. Toner traditionally couldn’t handle that very well and resulted in patchiness of colour and fuzzing of lines. The latest toner based systems are designed to compensate for that to a degree, so talk to us if you want to use textured paper for a print job and we can recommend if it’s practical.

Paper weights and what they are best for 


These are best use for low cost flyers or to be part of a booklet or brochure. Their thinness and flexibility makes them ideal for folding and stacking up. 80gsm copy paper is the most common paper used in this range.


You will find most flyers printed on paper from this range of weights. It will give you a nice finish but keep the cost very manageable. Business letters are printed on 100gsm uncoated while flyers are normally 130gsm coated papers.


This is the domain of the premium flyers and brochures. The paper has a ‘heft’ to it but can still be easily bent and folded. A lot of textured and art papers also fall in to the 130-200gsm range as they tend to be softer and require extra thickness for the finishes required.


This is the range that covers card. At the lower end 200gsm is thick enough to stand up under it’s own weight, while business cards are done on 350gsm.

Beyond 350gsm

At this point we are now talking about boards as they are printed using different systems to the lighter weights and outside the abilities of on demand printers. Their grades are measured by their thickness in microns (1/1000th of a millimetre.)

What to use where?

Need to get the most flyers out for your money, then 100 uncoated or 130 coated are your cost leaders. (If you want to be really cheap we have our budget flyer range that is printed black only on plain paper with unprinted margins and options to upgrade to tinted paper.) If you are needing a premium look then 170 or 200gsm coated papers will provide it for only a moderate increase in cost. If you need to slide flyers in to mailboxes or stack in display stands, then 250 or 300gsm will fit your needs perfectly. Now we also carry uncoated versions of the weights listed, but as the cost of uncoated versions of the paper is generally higher than coated version we leave for custom orders beyond our web to print system.

Want to do more than what our Web to Print system is able to do, and it can do a lot, then give us a call or drop us an email and we can discuss exactly what will work the best for your job.