We're not talking about the once common desktop paper weight, but rather the weight of paper itself. If you have ever bought print, or even copier paper, you would have noticed paper being described as 80gsm, 130gsm or 300gsm, but what does this really mean?
GSM is an abbreviation for Grams per Square Meter or in other words the weight, measured in grams of a one square meter sheet of paper. For example a one square meter sheet of 130gsm paper would weigh… 130 grams.
In practical terms, the higher the GSM, the heavier and therefore thicker the paper is going to be. Imagine a 12" pizza, now ignore the toppings and melted cheese and just picture the base, a thin base pizza uses less dough than a deep pan and so is thinner and lighter. The same applies to paper, lighter paper uses less pulp and coating material to make it, so the paper is thinner and has a lower weight.
When buying print knowing the meaning of the paper weight can help ensure that you order the right weight paper for the type of print you are producing. For example knowing that a flyer is printed on 300gsm silk art, tells you the flyer is going to be printed on a thick board, or a leaflet on 130gsm is going to be on a thinner lighter paper.
Not all paper is made equal
An important point to note is that different types of paper can have very different thicknesses and feel of rigidity, even if they are the same weight. Uncoated paper for example is a much thicker and more rigid paper than an equivalent weight gloss coated art paper.
This difference is due to the way the paper is made. Uncoated paper is made purely from paper pulp with no coating. Paper pulp is much lighter than the material used to create a gloss finish, therefore much more pulp is used to create a square meter sheet of uncoated paper making it thicker and more rigid. Coated paper however has a covering of a clay like substance applied to the surface of the paper. This coating is very heavy so paper manufactures use much less pulp and a thin layer of coating to make a sheet therefore it is thinner and flimsier than an equivalent uncoated sheet.
So now you know - GSM relates directly to the thickness of the sheet of paper - the higher the GSM, the thicker and more substantial the paper will be. No one likes handing out flimsy business cards and the quality of a sales brochure is going to suffer if very light weight paper is used, so make sure you know the paper weight being used when you order your print - if you are not 100% sure always ask before ordering. Remember also the price of paper is relative to its weight, heavier paper costs more per sheet than light weight paper.
Eazy Print offers a range of flyers and leaflets on a choice of paper weights.
Written by Joanne Serellis