Understanding Paper Weights: A Guide to GSM and Its Uses

“GSM” stands for grams per square meter, and it’s a metric used to measure the weight and typically the thickness or density of paper. The higher the GSM number, the heavier and generally thicker the paper. Different GSMs are suited to different purposes based on their weight and feel.

Here are some common GSM values for different types of paper and their typical uses:

  1. 35-55 GSM
    • Type: Very lightweight paper.
    • Usage: Newspapers, cheap notepads.
  2. 75-90 GSM
    • Type: Standard weight paper.
    • Usage: Most standard office and home printers will use paper in this range for regular document printing. Typical A4 sheets that you put in a printer are often 80 GSM.
  3. 100-120 GSM
    • Type: Medium weight paper.
    • Usage: Stationery, flyers, leaflets, brochures. It’s sturdier and gives a more professional feel than the 80 GSM paper without being too thick or costly.
  4. 130-170 GSM
    • Type: Slightly thicker paper/card.
    • Usage: Posters, magazine covers, brochure covers, high-quality flyers. This weight is often used for materials that need to be more durable than regular paper but not as thick as card.
  5. 180-220 GSM
    • Type: Heavy paper or lightweight card.
    • Usage: Greeting cards, heavy brochures, presentation folders. This weight is sturdy but can still be folded without scoring, making it useful for certain printed materials.
  6. 250-300 GSM
    • Type: Card.
    • Usage: Business cards, show cards, invitations. This weight is very sturdy and tends to be used for products that require a solid, durable feel.
  7. 350-450 GSM
    • Type: Thick card.
    • Usage: Business cards with a very premium feel, heavy invitations, and other premium printed products.
  8. > 450 GSM
    • Type: Very thick card.
    • Usage: Packaging, premium business cards, book covers, etc.

It’s important to note that GSM is just one characteristic of paper. The texture, finish (matte, glossy, satin), opacity, and whiteness can also vary, which impacts the paper’s look and feel. When choosing paper, especially for a special project or print job, it’s recommended to get sample sheets or swatches to make an informed decision.

Types of Paper Used for Photo Printing: From Passport Shots to Colorful Imagery

When producing photos, the type of paper you choose can significantly impact the final appearance, texture, and longevity of the image. However, not only is the printer type responsible for the quality of photo printing, but the specific photo paper used plays a role too. Different photos often require distinct paper types to achieve optimal results. Here’s a guide to the various kinds of paper used for photo printing:

  1. Glossy Paper:
    • Appearance: Shiny and smooth.
    • Best for: General photo printing, especially color photos where vibrancy and sharpness are desired.
    • Not recommended for: Photos that will be handled frequently (fingerprints can be an issue) or viewed under direct light due to reflections.
  2. Matte Paper:
    • Appearance: Flat with no shine.
    • Best for: Black and white prints, portraits, and artistic photos.
    • Benefits: Reduces glare and fingerprints.
  3. Luster (or Pearl) Paper:
    • Appearance: A cross between glossy and matte, with a slight shimmer.
    • Best for: Professional portraits, weddings, and fine art prints.
    • Benefits: Resists fingerprints and offers the color richness of glossy paper without the heavy glare.
  4. Satin Paper:
    • Appearance: Smooth, with a pearl-like luster.
    • Best for: Photos that require high color consistency and depth, like landscapes and portraits.
  5. Metallic Paper:
    • Appearance: Glossy with a chrome-like finish.
    • Best for: Photos where a sharp, vibrant, and three-dimensional look is desired. Often used for commercial purposes, fashion photography, or any application looking for a unique presentation.
  6. Fine Art Paper (or Cotton Rag):
    • Appearance: Textured, often resembling traditional artist paper.
    • Best for: Artistic prints, fine art photography, and exhibitions.
    • Benefits: Archival quality, meaning they last longer without fading.
  7. Canvas:
    • Appearance: Textured fabric.
    • Best for: Large prints meant to be hung as art pieces.
    • Benefits: Adds an artistic feel to photos, often used for portraits and landscapes.
  8. Specialty Papers:
    • Passport and ID Photos: While these can technically be printed on various types of photo paper, many countries have specific requirements for these photos. They often require a plain, high-quality paper with no noticeable texture or finish.

When choosing a paper type, it’s essential to consider the purpose of the print, the desired aesthetic, and where/how it will be displayed. Each type of paper imparts its character to the photo, enhancing different aspects of the image.


We have discussed photo paper and the specific GSM used for various purposes. If you’re unsure about GSM and the different types of photo paper, read this article. You’ll learn essential details about printer paper and the types of photo paper used in color photo printing.

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Surendra Verma
Surendra Verma

This is Surendra Verma, a writer who focuses on gadgets, consumer goods, and technology. I test and review consumer technology because I am very interested in it. worked for more than two years on YouTube. I enjoy making technology simple for everyone with my three years of experience.

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