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What does GSM mean? A guide to paper weights

Lets start with something simple: GSM – what exactly does it mean?

GSM stands for Grams per Square Meter, and serves as the universal unit of measuring the weight (and usually thickness) of paper and card stocks. In short, the higher GSM the denser the material. For reference, your typical printer paper will be around 100gsm. 

The weight of paper can have a significant impact on how your printed materials are received. In general if you use heavier / thicker paper stock, it can suggest it’s promoting a quality product or service. However, the use of heavy paper stock for books, brochures, booklets or magazines is not ideal as not only will it be harder to flick through it also won’t lay flat. 

However, there’s no need to fret about GSM. Here are some handy guidelines to simplify your paper weight selection for range of popular print products.

What paper weight is best?

GSM for business cards:

With business cards you want to aim for something sturdy and professional. You should consider a stock between 300gsm – 400gsm, in order to maintain a sleek appearance. This weight will ensure your business cards don’t crease or tear easily, and also convey a sense of quality to clients.

If you want a premium business card on a heavier weight check out our luxury business cards or event triplex business cards

GSM for flyers:

When choosing the right gsm for flyers, you should consider the intended use and distribution method. We usually recommend flyers be printed on 80gsm to 120gsm to strike a balance between cost and durability. 

This range ensures the flyers will be easy to distribute whilst still feeling professional. However, if you anticipate heavy handling or outdoor use, we’d suggest going a little heavier – perhaps up to 200gsm. From 150gsm you will ensure the flyers are not easily torn and will maintain their quality for longer. For a high-end premium flyer, you could consider going up to 250gsm. 

If large scale distribution is what you’re after, where cost is often a primary concern, going lighter to around 80gsm offers affordability and reasonable quality.

GSM for posters:

A gsm range of 150 to 200 is fairly standard for posters. The provides a sturdy feel whilst also remaining lightweight and allows for easy mounting for hanging. This weight will also ensure your posters withstand handling whilst on display.

However, outdoor posters need extra durability to withstand inclement weather. For outdoors we recommend going up to 250gsm but our team will be delighted the help you. Depending on how you hang your posters a higher weight may make it more likely your posters fall down.

GSM for pvc banners:

With PVC Banners, we offer 2 types of GSM, as we feel any thinner material would not be good and your banners would last no longer than a month or so in windy conditions. We offer our standard 440gsm and on request we can print 520gsm.

You want your banners to both survive outdoors but also retain enough quality to be resusable, so going any lighter is not recommended. At 440gsm your banners will be tear and crease resistant.

GSM for brochures

When printing brochures or booklets the paper stocks you choose can vary. You’d also likely want to choose a heavier gsm for the front cover, with something lighter for the inner pages. The front cover should be around 250gsm to 300gsm, the thick cover will enhance the brochures presentation and offer protection from wear and tear. A quality brochure would feature around 150gsm for the inner pages to get a good balance between quality and flexibility.