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Design For Print: Stock

*Written in my own words*

Newsprint is recycled paper that is made mostly of newspapers, comic and wood pulp which has been ground together, it is a low quality substrate and therefore has a short life span however it is inexpensive to produce and buy. The key characteristics of newsprint is that it is relatively strong and has a high opacity, which is needed for printing newspapers, commonly what this stock is used for. The stock is also very light and therefore absorbs a lot of ink into the stock. The lightness of the stock also makes it more cost-effective and can make an overall printed publication lighter. The stock is also of considerable strength as is most often run from a roll and needs to fed through a printing press at high speeds without tearing. As the stock is often found on a roll it is normally only available I one weight. As primarily the paper comes from a variety of recycled sources this means the stock has irregular surface texture similar to grey board. Newsprint is most commonly used for very high quantity print runs and therefore not suitable for smaller print runs.

Paper stock substrate known as Antique is a high quality paper which has a clay coating on both sides of the substrate which make for a good quality printing surface. This stock may also be referred to an Art stock which has similar properties and is often used in the printing of halftones as it allows for high quality detail and definition.

Mechanical paper stock is produced from a wood pulp, the process also used acidic newspaper, directories and lignins. As the lignin chemical is not removed from the pulp this makes the stock only suitable for short term uses as this chemical makes the stock yellow and brittle over time. The fibres within the paper are also short in length which make the paper weak however this stock is often very inexpensive.

A coated stock is a substrate that has a surface coating applied to it, either on one side or both sides, ‘coated one side’ refers to stock that only has the coating on one side of the substrate, leaving the other side uncoated and matt. The coating can be either glossy of matt and the coating created a hard, waxy surface on top of the paper. When a stock has been coated this removes it porous quality and when printed onto, the ink sits on top of the coating rather than being absorbed into the stock. The coating is applied to wet stock which is then pressed against a hot, polished metal drum which sets the coating.

An uncoated substrate is a stock which has not had a coating applied to its surface to create a particular appearance or feel and does not protect the paper material. When printed onto the ink is absorbed into the stock.

Chromo is type of stock which has a special coating applied to its surface, often only on a single side which makes the stock more suited for processes later in the print process such as embossing and varnishing, using this stock greatly improves the quality of these processes.

A paper stock that that ranges towards to thicker end of the scale and is more commonly used for ink and stencils drawings. When used within commercial printing its primary function is to add texture to a publication and create a different feel about the printed product.

A substrate referred to as Flock in a paper stock which has had a flock coating applied to it’s surface. This surface coating is extremely fine and woolen. This type of substrate is commonly used for decorative purposes as it creates a cloth like appearance.

Colored paper
Colored paper can be found in an array of colours and weights dependent on the company supplying it however it is most often found in uncoated varieties. Colored papers can also be found with a range of surface textures and embossments applied to one side of the stock this can make a stock more unique and unusual. Often this substrate can be found in weights ranging between from 100gsm to 350gsm however thicker weight can be achieved through bonding sheets together to make a desired weight or thickness, however this can dramatically increase production costs. Colored papers can be used with most printing processes however they are most effective when screen printed or used with finishing processes such as embossing. Colored papers are also effective when die cutting or folding is needed as part of the print process as the material retains it’s colour whereas a printed colour onto a white stock can result in white breaking through the printed colour.

Corrugated cardboard
Corrugated cardboard is constructed from a two flat sheets of outer substrate such as a liner or paper which then house and sandwich a filling of corrugated fluted paper. This material is typically used for packaging as it creates cushioning and protection for the product inside as it resists crushing under pressure. The inner flutes are glued to outer substrates and are often positioned vertically for added stacking strength. The material most likely comes in two colors either white on both sides of brown on both sides. The inner wall can also be repeated to create double or triple wall corrugated cardboard which has added strength. Often this material requires glue or staples to hold it together when being used for construction purposes however the use of hinges can also be explored.

Grey Board
Grey board similar to newsprint is manufactured from a variety of recycled waste sources, grey board can be used in both its natural uncoated state or can be laminated for other purposes. The substrate is extremely rigid and low cost which enable to be used for many purposes, typically within hard back book covers. Often the material is disguised within the final product commonly it is laminated. The surface of the material is imperfect and irregular and has a rough surface texture due to the materials it has been manufactured from. The material is not idea for folding or creasing as the material is prone to cracking, the high water content has also make the material prone to warping.

A laid paper stock or substrate is one which has an irregular surface texture that is as a result of its manufacture process. It is often present in the form of lines running across the substrate. The type of stock is traditional used for stationary as it conveys a luxury quality however it has been used for other uses.


Mirriboard is a substrate that has unnatural surface appearance often metallic or holographic. It is made by layering metalized polyester onto a paper stock or board. The finished material has metallic or reflective properties and is typically used for packaging. The material comes in a wide variety of colour and finishes. The material has a smooth surface quality, which can be printed onto used conventional printing processes, however ink that dry on non absorbent surfaces must be selected. However this material is prone to surface scratches and marks which can be noticeable and unsightly.

Polypropylene a synthetic substrate is most often used in sheet format for printing can is available in a variety colour and thicknesses. The material has a smooth yet waxy surface texture, it can used in many of the traditional printing methods and can be screen printed onto. Finishing processes can also be used effectively with this material without damage to the materials surface quality. The material can also be easy die cut or scored to created a hinge like mechanism when being used for carton construction. It is a very rigid yet flexible material that is resistant to surface damage and punctures. The stock naturally has a slight degree of opacity and finding opaque variants is less common and readily available.


A hard non porous surface applied to a stock, which allows the ink to sit in the paper without being absorbed into the paper.

A coating applied to a stock which creates a high shine finish, often found on magazine and brochures.

The weight of a paper or stock is measured in gsm, grams per square meter and the weight of a paper is determined by the density of fibres that make up an individual sheet of the stock. Often but not always a heavier weight means a better quality stock.


Caliper refers to the individual thickness of a sheet of substrate, this thickness is measure in calipers or inches, thickness is not relative to quality.


Brightness refers to the amount of bleach applied to a stock before being pressed, the more bleach that is added, the brighter the final substrate becomes and therefore reflects more light.

The opacity of a stock or substrate is a result of it’s thickness and density. The opacity of the paper is measured by the extent to which text and images can be seen on the overleaf of a double printed page.

The texture of a substrate is dependent on the quality of the wood fibres used during its manufacture. If a paper is tightly pressed it results in a smoother paper however if less pressing is used and the fibre a more lose this results in a more textures uneven surface.

Satin is type of coating that can be applied to a paper stock, its characteristics lie half way between a gloss coating and a matt coating, it is to says half of each quality.

A ream refers to a standard measure of paper, used when purchasing or quoting paper prices and is the equivalent of 500 sheets of the stock.

[Calvert S, Casey A and Dabner D. (2010) 'A Foundation Course for Graphic Designers Working in Print, Moving Images and Digital Media' London, Thames and Hudson]

[Ambrose, G and Harris, P. (2009) 'The Fundamentals of Graphic Design' Switzerland, AVA Publishing]

[Ambrose, G and Harris, P. (2008) 'The Production Manual' Switzerland, AVA Publishing]

[Fishel, C. (2007) 'Mastering Materials, Bindings and Finishes' USA, Rockport Publisher, Inc.]

[Mason, D. (2007) 'Materials, Process, Print: Creative Solutions for Graphic Design' London, Laurence King]

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