What paper should I print my business cards on?

When you're creating a business card, it’s natural to focus on the visual design, messaging, and type of information you include. After all, each of those decisions is crucial to the overall impression your card creates. But what about the paper you print on? Is that important? And how do you choose the right option?

The answer, of course, is ‘yes’; the paper you choose is incredibly important. Think about the way a business card is used and the objective you’re hoping to achieve.

Essentially, a business card is a tangible piece of marketing and information collateral that you pass to a prospective client. They hold something that physically encapsulates your brand or business in their hand, and it becomes a long-term representation of your meeting. Your business card physically embodies the traits of your business or service offering.

When you’re trying to succinctly capture the essence of your business, every detail is vital. How it feels is just as important as how it looks. Or what it says.

In this piece, we’ll cover off some of the common terms associated with printing paper, the options available, and how to choose the right one for you.

Key terms and definitions

The paper and printing industry is filled with insider terminology. To choose the right paper for your business card, you’ll need to understand some of the common concepts to make a more informed selection.

Stock

This one’s easy. ‘Stock’ is just another word for paper, usually used by people who work within the printing industry.

Weight

Weight refers to the thickness of the stock being used (or how thick your business card will be) and is typically measured in GSM, which stands for Grams Per Square Metre. Think of it this way: if you had a one-metre by one-metre sheet of paper, the GSM value is how much that sheet of paper would weigh.

The lower the number of the GSM, the lighter (or thinner) the paper.

The higher the number of the GSM, the heavier (or thicker) the paper.

For context, the following types of paper are typically printed on these weights:

  • 30-50GSM – Newspaper.
  • 90-100GSM – Office paper used in standard print outs and documents.
  • 300+ GSM – anything with a weight over 300GSM is classed as ‘heavyweight’. Most business cards are printed at a weight of 300+ GSM.

Finish

‘Finish’ refers to the look, texture, and feel of the paper you use. There are two main types of finish: ‘uncoated’ and ‘coated’. In most instances, you’ll have to choose between these two options when designing a business card.

Different options for the finish of your business card

Uncoated stock

Uncoated paper is exactly what it sounds like – it has not been treated with any kind of sealant or material to enhance the surface of the card. As a result, uncoated stock is much more tactile and textured than a coated option, and it doesn’t provide the same reflective glare when ink is applied.

Uncoated stock creates an authentic, timeless and organic impression when you handle it. Although uncoated stock is typically available for a lower price than a coated equivalent, with the right design it can create the sense of being dotingly crafted or tailored. Uncoated stock can feel artisanal, or like each card has been handcrafted rather than mass-produced.

Any colours or logos printed on uncoated stock will appear slightly less vivid than when printed on a coated counterpart, but they will still be clear. If you’re hoping to include photos on your business card, a coated option may be better.

Some of our options for uncoated stock include:

Coated stock

While coated paper covers a range of different styles, they all feature some kind of treatment or sealant—or logically, coating—to impart a specific characteristic. Coating stock can change the qualities of paper so that it becomes shinier, absorbs ink in specific or unusual ways, or ‘feels’ different.

Two of the most common kinds of coating are gloss laminate and matte finish.

Gloss laminate:

As you might’ve guessed from the name, gloss laminate is all about creating a smooth impression. The gloss coating creates a slick, reflective and shiny surface which is perfectly suited to bright, vibrant colours (because the ink doesn’t soak into the stock as thoroughly as it would in an uncoated stock) and detailed photos or images. Think about the thick, premium, luxurious-feeling pages of a glossy photography magazine; that’s the sort of polished impression you’ll create with a gloss laminate.

If you’re really looking to make your colours, logos, or typography come to life, try enhancing your business card with a spot coated UV finish, which creates an additional layer of gloss laminate for specific aspects of your design.

Matte finish:

In direct contrast to gloss laminate, matte finishes are more subdued and create an understated sophistication.

A matte finish won’t reflect or react to light—so they feel ‘flatter’ than a gloss laminate—and can be particularly effective in creating bold contrast for different elements of your design. For example, a matte finish will create a subdued canvas for an elegant showpiece typeface or highlighted visual element.

The bold contrast offered by a matte finish is also particularly well suited to an embossed card design.

How to choose the right paper for your business card

Ultimately, there’s no hard or fast rules for selecting the best paper for your unique business card. In the same way that you should choose a typeface and visual design based on how you’ll position your service offering with prospective clients, the paper (or stock) you select should complement the overall impression you hope to create.

Is your business luxurious and sleek? Or relatable and down to earth?

Are you forward-facing, polished and professional? Or creative, fun and approachable?

The answers to these questions should help to guide your decision.

Now that you understand some of the common concepts associated with different paper types, you’re better placed to select the stock that conveys the right message, connects with the right audiences, and—hopefully—helps you to acquire new business.



Got a design in mind? Check out our full range of business cards now, with same day quoting and speedy delivery all around Australia.

Or get in touch with our team of experienced design specialists: we can help to encapsulate your service in a high-quality business card. Call us now on 1300 663 120!