Print Lingo Explained: GSM what is it?

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What is GSM?

Forklift loading pallets with paper in truck

GSM stands for grams per square metre and it is one of the main defining characteristics of paper along with finish and grade. GSM refers to the density of the paper. A paper with a higher GSM will be more dense than one with a lower GSM one and therefore will lead to a heavier finished product.

It is important to remember that other factors can affect the appearance and feel of a paper. These include properties such as pulp content, texture and finish. Ironically sometimes a lighter paper can bulk up more after printing and appear thicker than a heavier one due to the effects of the curing process. Some more information about paper types can be found HERE.

Why is this important for your publication?
  • The weight of the paper will determine how it is printed.
    • Heavy papers usually over 130gsm will be printed on a Sheetfed Press.
    • Lighter papers will usually be printed on a Web Press.
  • Many designers like a heavier paper for the cover and a lighter paper for the text.
    • This is more economical to print if the job has a separate cover.
  • The weight of the paper may affect your mailing costs.
    • A lighter publication could save you money on mailing.
  • Sometimes heavy papers require additional work such as scoring in order for them to be folded without cracking.
    • Sometimes the paper has to be “short grain”

If you are unsure or would like to know more please don’t hesitate to contact us via our Helpdesk.