4 Tips for Choosing the Stock & Finish of Your Next Print Project


The look and feel of your print project is vital to its success. To make the biggest possible impact with your audience, you need to think beyond what you're printing and also consider how.

It's not just the graphic design or the content that matters. Two of the most important (yet often overlooked) features that influence your print piece's effectiveness are the stock and finish.

Stock typically refers to the type of material or paper you're printing on, as well as its thickness and weight, usually measured in pounds (#).

Finish refers to additional treatments or features of the material that give it a distinctive appearance or texture.

Stock and finish play a critical role in the overall quality, professionalism and practicality of your printed materials. And, that applies to almost every type of project: direct-mail pieces, brochures, promotional postcards and business cards, just to name a few. If the stock is too light, for example, it may feel "cheap." If the finish is too glossy, it might make text harder to read.

So, how do you choose? Here are 4 simple tips to keep in mind when planning your next print project.

1) Get creative.

Use stocks and finishes to make your project more original and distinctive. That's especially important if it's a mailer that will compete with other items in your recipient's mailbox. Always remember that print design needs to be more than just visually appealing. It needs to engage tactile senses too.

Lamination, textures and protective coatings can make your printed piece stand out and feel great in recipients' hands.

2) Choose the right stock for the project.

Put some thought into the stock you choose for your printed material. Different materials each have their unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, gloss stocks are great for photographs—they can make a visual piece truly shine.

On the flipside of that coin, too much gloss can cause text to strain the eyes. Additionally, gloss is difficult to write on, so it's not always a good fit for business cards or mail-back cards.

3) Try satin, silk or matte coated sheets for less glare.

If you like the look and feel of gloss, but your piece has a lot of text, then consider options like silk, satin or matte coated sheets. These have a smooth, velvety finish, but with less glare than other, more glossy options. This makes the type easier to read while also adding wow factor to your project.

4) Go uncoated for a natural feel.

Sometimes, less is more. Uncoated stocks have an environmental feel. They feel minimalist, more natural and (depending on the content) more artistic. Another huge benefit is that they're easy to read and write on. Keep in mind that also means they absorb ink and take longer to dry.

Need help?

Our print specialists at ITP are happy to help you choose the right stock and finish for your next project. Give us a call at 866-487-8506 or email info@itpofusa.com. And be sure to follow us on Instagram for more great tips on ITP Tip Tuesdays!