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Three Important Factors to Consider

When it comes to paper stock for your Business Cards, you need to consider more than just the thickness (points) of the paper. There is much more to know than just how thick it is when choosing a good, quality paper stock for your cards. Paper quality is judged and notated in many confusing different ways, many of which came from Europe and mean nothing to us today, yet we use them purely from memorization. For example 80# Text and 80# Cover - the first is thin like writing paper and the second is thick like a thin Business Card.

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Let us explain how to determine quality Business Card Paper in plainer, simpler terms. Three things really matter in determining what paper stock is going to produce a quality business card.


  1. How thick the card stock is.
  2. How dense/compressed the card stock is.
  3. The quality of the finish on the card stock that will be printed on.

First, paper thickness is measured with a micrometer, which measures in a percentage of inches or millimeters. A good example of a handheld micrometer may be seen on Wikipedia's micrometer page.

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One point is equal to 1/1,000 of an inch for card stock. Therefore, 15 point card stock is .015 inches thick. Paper with more points is thicker but not necessarily sturdier, and paper with less points is logically thinner. Fifteen point paper is good for business cards if the paper is also quality made. It is common to have thick cheaply made paper.

Let's discuss items #2 and #3 now. These two issues are more important to consider than the first. Unfortunately 99% of People focus solely on the first point (thickness of the paper). How dense the paper and the quality of the finish that will be printed on is determined by how the paper is 'calendered'.

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'The calender is a series of hard pressure rollers used to form or smooth a sheet of material. In a principal application, the calender is located at the end of a papermaking process (on-line). Those that are used separate from the process (off-line) are also called supercalenders. The purpose of a calender is to make the paper smooth and glossy for printing and writing.' - Wikipedia

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Think of it this way - in terms of Bread. A slice of Wonder bread is much thicker than pita bread. It's how the bread is made that is more important than how thick it is. Pita bread is denser than Wonder bread. When it comes to business cards, not all thick papers are created equal. You may have a 15pt thick card that feels cheap and spongy but it's still 15pt thick. On the other hand you can have a 15pt thick card that feels stiff like a Metal blade. More expensive and higher quality papers are highly calendered and give that feeling of quality, thickness, and snap that everyone is looking for in a business card.

In conclusion, when choosing card paper or a company to print your business cards, be careful not to only look for 'how thick the paper is (Points)' but also look at the paper quality. It is easy to find thick cheap paper with no substance and a poor printing surface. This paper leads to a cheap feeling business card with poor quality and poor printing on a below par calendered finish.

If you have any additional questions or comments about paper quality for Business Card Printing, please feel free to contact us.

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