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What weight paper for catalog printing

What Weight Paper Should You Use for Catalog Printing? [The Complete Guide]

Catalog printing is all about promoting your products so that customers can browse them at their convenience. And paper choice plays a massive role in the overall catalog experience. That’s why most companies put serious thought into picking the perfect paper weight and stock for their catalogs.

I get tons of questions about catalog paper weight. So today, as a professional China catalog printing provider, I want to give you a complete guide to choosing the ideal paper weight for your catalog printing project.

What weight paper for catalog printing

Why Paper Weight Matters for Catalogs

Your catalog’s paper impacts everything from durability and page-turning experience to perceived value.

Pick paper that’s too lightweight? Well, your catalog could come across as flimsy and cheap.

Choose paper that’s too thick? You might have issues with complicated printing and binding equipment. Not to mention your catalog will be a hassle for customers to browse.

In other words:

You need to find the Goldilocks weight. Paper that gives your catalog a premium feel without compromising printability.

And if you’re printing a perfect bound catalog where pages connect to the spine, you also need flexibility in the paper stock. Otherwise, it will be challenging (and costly) to glue pages to the spine.

With that, let’s go through everything you need to know to pick the perfect paper weight for your catalog.

Should You Use Text or Cover Stock?

The first big choice is between text and cover stock paper.

Text Stock: Text stock is flexible printing paper designed for a catalog’s inside pages. The choice of professional print shops everywhere, text stock makes catalog binding and page-turning easy. And the lighter weight means lower printing costs (more on pricing below).

Popular text stock weights for catalogs range from 60-100lb.

Cover Stock: Cover stock is super stiff paper made specifically for the front and back cover of books and catalogs. It gives your catalog a more premium feel while standing up to frequent handling.

Cover stock for catalogs tends to fall between 80-130lb.

Here are the pros and cons of each option:

Text Stock


  • Less expensive
  • Easier for complex binding techniques like perfect binding
  • Customers can turn pages easily


  • Not as thick or durable as cover stock
  • Can dent if catalog is dropped

Cover Stock


  • Premium, upscale look and feel
  • Very durable and rigid
  • Pages don’t bend easily when catalog is held


  • Much more expensive than text stock
  • Challenging for perfect or spiral binding
  • Hard for readers to turn pages

How Much Does Catalog Paper Weight Impact Price?

Generally speaking, the heavier the paper weight, the pricier your order will be.

Let’s compare two popular paper weights for catalogs side-by-side:

Specs80lb Text Stock100lb Text Stock
Price Per 500 Sheets$30$45
Price Per 5,000 Catalogs$1,800$2,700

As you can see, switching from 80lb stock to a heavier 100lb stock increases cost by around 50%.

And jumping to the heaviest options like 130lb cover stock can double or even triple printing costs in some cases.

The price difference really adds up for high page count catalogs printed in big quantities.

6 Best Paper Weights for Catalog Printing

Now that you understand the tradeoffs, let’s look at specific paper weight recommendations.

1. 60lb Coated Text

60lb text strikes the ideal balance between affordability and quality for catalogs containing mostly text. It has some shine for visual appeal too.

Downside? Photos won’t pop quite as much as heavier text stock.

Best For: Text-heavy catalogs on a budget.

2. 80lb Gloss Text

With bright whites and superb ink holdout, 80lb gloss text shows images clearly. The moderate weight also allows for easy page-turning.

It’s the most popular all-around text stock for catalogs containing both text and images.

Best For: General product catalogs with a mix of text and graphics.

3. 100lb Gloss Text

100lb gloss text has an impressive thickness that makes your catalog feel valuable. The gloss coating also allows vibrant images to jump off the page.

Just keep in mind that 100lb text significantly boosts cost over 80lb stock.

Best For: High-end catalogs showcasing products.

4. 100lb Uncoated Text

Love the natural, eco-friendly look and feel of uncoated stock? Then 100lb uncoated text is for you.

It retains the signature uncoated texture while having enough thickness for an upscale catalog.

Just know that photos won’t be quite as vibrant on uncoated paper.

Best For: Eco-friendly catalogs with great text readability.

5. 80lb Gloss Cover

80lb gloss cover strikes a nice balance between durability and flexibility. So it works with various catalog binding techniques.

It’s also easier for readers to turn pages compared to 100lb+ cover stocks.

Best For: Catalog covers that are thick but not overly rigid.

6. 100lb Gloss Cover

If presentation is critical, upgrade to 100lb gloss cover stock for your catalog cover.

The substantial thickness screams “high-end” while the gloss coating allows dynamic imagery.

Just know that 100lb cover is overkill (and expensive overkill at that) for simpler catalogs.

Best For: Premium catalog covers to showcase your branding.

Match Paper Weight to Catalog Page Count

Here’s a quick rule of thumb for catalog page counts:

Less Than 16 Pages: 60-80lb Text Stock

16-48 Pages: 80-100lb Text Stock

More Than 48 Pages: 80-100lb Text Stock + 80-100lb Cover Stock

In other words:

  • Super thin catalogs under 16 pages do fine with lightweight text stock. Anything heavier feels awkward.
  • Bulkier catalogs over 16 pages call for thicker text stock that holds up well.
  • And massive catalogs over 48 pages should have the added durability of a cover stock wrap.

No matter your page count, always order an unbound test copy before going all out on a big print run.

Flipping through a physical sample catalog is the best way to gauge the perfect paper weight/feel combo.

Finishing Options Beyond Paper Weight

Beyond choosing the right paper weight, consider these finishing touches:

Aqueous Coating

An aqueous coating adds a protective plastic-like layer on top of your print catalog. This gloss or matte finish enhances contrast/clarity while protecting against scuffs and smudges.

Rounded Corners

Rounded catalog corners have a super polished aesthetic while eliminating dog ears from pages turning. Just keep in mind that rounded corners make folding and binding trickier.

Edge Painting

Edge painting coats catalog page edges with vibrant ink for some serious visual pop. It also hides rough edges from paper cutting. Just know that thicker paper makes edge painting challenging.

Catalog Paper Weight FAQs

Let’s wrap things up with answers to a few common paper weight questions:

Is gloss or matte better for catalogs?

Gloss is better if your catalog contains mostly images. The gloss coating enhances clarity/contrast without the glare of full gloss paper.

Matte is preferable for text-heavy catalogs. It eliminates glare while still having enough coating for sharp, vibrant text.

What paper weight should catalogs be?

80lb gloss text is the ideal weight for general product catalogs containing both images and text. 60lb text works for text-only catalogs while 100lb text gives images more punch.

Is 100lb paper good for catalogs?

Yes, 100lb gloss text is an exceptional catalog paper weight. It has the perfect thickness for a premium look and feel while still being easy to print and bind.

The only downside is the significant cost increase over 80lb text stock.

Can you print a catalog on regular paper?

Technically you can print catalogs on flimsy 24lb copy/printer paper. But the results will look and feel cheap.

I recommend a minimum 60lb text stock for decent durability and thickness.

Maximize Response With the Best Catalog Paper

You want customers to eagerly flip through your entire catalog – not quickly discard it.

That’s why carefully evaluating paper weight should be one of your top priorities for print catalog success.

The right stock creates an immersive browsing experience that showcases products in their best light.

And that optimal paper weight varies based on page count, binding type, catalog purpose and your budget.

Hopefully this detailed guide gives you everything you need to select paper with confidence.

Now focus your efforts on wowing customers with an unforgettable catalog filled with compelling products they just can’t wait to buy.

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