The type of the paper you use for your business card, leaflet or stationery will ultimately reflect your business, so when designing and ordering your printed product, it’s important to consider paper weight and paper quality. But what is paper weight? And how is paper weight determined? It is often explained in terms of GSM… Stick with us and we will explain with our simple easy guide.
What Does GSM mean in Paper and what does it Stand For?
You’ll have come across the acronym gsm, if you’ve ever ordered a batch of printed business cards or leaflets or even just stepped into a store to buy a pack of white A4 paper for your home printer. But what’s the betting that this three letter word passed you by? Or you simply thought, what does GSM mean and why does it matter? Simply put, GSM stands for ‘Grams per Square Metre’ and it refers to the weight of a single sheet of paper at 1m x 1m.
What Does GSM Paper Mean?
GSM is simply a unit of measurement for paper products. Ultimately, the higher the GSM the heavier the paper and the lighter the paper, the lower the GSM. The GSM paper weight chart measures all types of paper stock from light tissue paper, which is often the paper type with the lowest GSM to heavier weight designs such as thick card stock.
There are a huge range of GSM paper weights available, so it’s important to find the right one for you and your project. But don’t worry, we’ll help you figure that out shortly.
What does NOT GSM mean?
We know that GSM refers to the weight of the paper, but something it does not necessarily relate to is paper thickness. Don’t worry, this is something many individuals new to the printing industry get confused with, especially because heavier paper is often thicker and stiffer than lighter papers. However, that rule doesn’t apply to all stock.
You may also come across two different types of paper with the same GSM with one thicker than the other.
For example, paper finishes can make a huge difference to paper thickness despite both paper types having the same GSM. If you’re not clued up on paper finishes, you can read our guide on that in our guide on types of paper.
A good example is the difference in thickness between silk and uncoated paper. If you had two sheets of 400gsm silk and uncoated paper in front of you, you’d find the silk would be more compact and the uncoated a little thicker despite them weighing the same. This is because in the uncoated stock, there are extra pockets of air that haven’t been coated.
How Is Paperweight Measured?
As we know, the most common way to measure paper weight in the UK is by measuring grams per square metre, or GSM. This involves weighing a 1 by 1 metre square of a paper type and recording its grams per meter squared. In the United States of America, however, they measure paperweight in pounds and base it on the weight of 500 sheets of paper. At Print Stafford, we display all our paperweight in GSM.
Is there a tool to measure GSM thickness?
Yes there is a tool! A tool to measure the thickness and weight of paper is called a caliper, or a micrometer.
This method measures actual paper thickness in 1/1000 inch increments. This measurement can also be called points. For example, paper measuring 0.007 inches in thickness is also referred to as p-point paper.
Why Does the Weight of Paper Matter?
You’re officially a pro on paper weight, and what GSM means, but why does all this matter? What is the importance of choosing the right GSM? Simply put, you can’t and shouldn’t be using the same paper weight for everything in your business. You wouldn’t use the same stock for a business card as you would for the letterheads going into your own printer, right?
When printing materials for promoting your business, you want them to look and feel professional. In this case, you may want to choose a paper stock with a higher GSM. This way, you know it is going to last longer and feel great in the customer’s hands. In contrast, if you are printing something with a short life span, like a printed label or decorative tissue paper for packaging up a product, then you may want to consider something with a lower GSM.
What Are GSM Paper Types and How Are They Used?
35gsm to 55gsm – These are considered some of the lightest and often thinnest paper weights and are usually reserved for newspapers and tissue paper.
70gsm to 80gsm – Probably the most common GSM paper type regularly found in office printers and used in notebooks and notepads
90gsm to 100gsm – A higher quality paper stock commonly used as office paper. We offer most of our printed business stationery like letterheads, envelopes and compliments slips on this paper weight
120gsm to 140gsm – Considered a heavy paper weight or light card stock, this level of GSM means to offer much more durability and stiffness. We also offer many of our business stationery on this paper weight as well as some leaflets and flyers
150gsm to 200gsm – Even heavier and studier paper stock, once again great for durable and resilient business stationery, leaflets, flyers and brochures
210gsm to 250gsm – This level of GSM for paper is one of the most popular for leaflets and flyers, offering a good level of resistance and thickness
260gsm to 300gsm – You wouldn’t use this paper weight for business stationery. While still having a bit of a bend, it is high quality card stock used by many businesses looking to make a professional statement. We offer this GSM on many of our folded and flat leaflets and flyers
300gsm + – Paper stock with a weight higher than 300gsm is considered heavy card and is often reserved for print products that get a lot of handle like business cards. We print all our business cards on 450gsm stock so you can maintain the professional image you and your business deserve.
Which Paper Weight Should You Choose?
This is an impossible question to answer since the best paper weight for printing depends entirely on you, your project and your budget. In terms of durability and sturdiness, the best GSM for paper is that above 300gsm since it is going to last for a long time and withstand lots of handling. However, if you are looking to design and print a selection of letterheads or leaflets, this kind of stock would be way too thick.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of what does gsm mean and how to make the right choice regarding your paper thickness on your print.
If you’re unsure which paper weight you should choose, get in touch with the team at Print Stafford. Give us the rundown of your project and all your requirements, and we can help you decide. We specialise in all levels of GSM paper so let us help you find the most advantageous and cost effective option for you!