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Thickness, opacity, brightness...

The Powerful Communication Impact of Paper

Digital documents can’t compare with the stimulation of the senses you get from holding a piece printed on a quality paper stock.

Major Impact

Paper has a huge impact in graphic communications. It directly affects the look, feel and content of the message you’re communicating.

When imaged on the right sheet, text and graphics command the reader’s attention.

The following details will help you get just the right sheet for your project.

Paper Weight

Paper weight isn’t the determining factor in book thickness. Caliper, the thickness of a paper stock measured in thousandths of an inch or points, is what counts.


Paper thickness doesn’t mean that much when producing a 16-page saddle bound booklet.

It makes a great difference when printing 1,000-page books like we do regularly at Copresco.

Depending on the paper used, actual book thickness could vary as much as 3/4” between grades of the same weights. That affects the width of the spine for binding.

For Example

The caliper of Cougar 60# super smooth finish is 4.2, while the vellum equivalent thickness is 5.2. That’s a 24% increase.

Here are other paper properties that directly affect the printing of your books and publications.


Opacity, the amount of showthrough in paper, is very important in book printing, because it affects how much the back side of a page shows through to the front, and how one sheet shows through to another.

Not a Good Option

The cheapest and least effective way to reduce showthrough is to increase paper thickness, usually by increasing the weight.

If a 50# paper is too translucent, moving to a 60# will ever so slightly reduce the showthrough. However, it will also increase the weight and thickness of the book, usually not desirable characteristics.

A better way to increase opacity is to use an opaque paper stock.


Brightness is the ability of paper to reflect light. Bleaching the paper pulp is a way to achieve brighter paper.

Clever print industry marketing has equated higher brightness with better quality, but this isn’t necessarily so.

Best for Lengthy Books

Long books fare much better on a more natural off-white shade of paper.

Technical manuals work well on high-brightness paper.

Ratings Climb

Premium uncoated book papers have been steadily increasing their brightness ratings for some time.

These papers command top dollar, and in the past there have been few options for price-conscious print buyers who need to maintain whiteness and opacity.


Whiteness refers to how neutral the color of the paper is. The trend toward greater brightness has led to the addition of more fluorescent dyes to paper, which is cheaper than the bleaching process.

Undesirable Features

Unfortunately, these cost-cutting dyes create bluish casts on cheaper grades of “white” papers, while leaving others with decidedly yellow casts.

Playing with the shade may fool the eye regarding brightness, but it can also play havoc with accurate color printing.

Our Advice

If you are presently using premium papers for your books and manuals, let us offer you recommendations for cost saving without compromising quality.

If you are still using lower grade commodity papers, now may be the time to reconsider upgrading your look.

With Copresco’s short run projects, you eliminate waste and use less paper. Therefore, you can use a more upscale paper that will give you immeasurable results. You may be surprised at how little the extra quality costs.

Still Need Help?

If you’re still confused about paper, or any aspect of digital printing, tell us what you want to accomplish and we’ll work out the details for you.

Copresco offers you a wide range of papers in various weights, finishes and colors to make your documents look their best.

We’re Here for You

Our staff works closely with our clients to recommend paper stocks that are best suited to your specific project requirements.

We encourage you to take advantage of our extensive knowledge of paper. We’ll be happy to show you swatches or a sample of your project.