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Paper Primer

By Tracy A. Gill, managing editor, Inside Direct Mail; senior writer, Target Marketing

How well your graphic vision and design translate to a final printed piece has everything to do with the type of paper it's printed on. And as paper is one of the largest items in your budget, the paper you choose is going to have a dramatic effect on your bottom line as well. When it comes to direct mail, there is no such thing as one "right" paper, but when it comes to your particular job, there might be. So before you ask your printer to just use whatever paper it can get a good deal on or has "left-over" around the shop, do your homework so that you can make an informed decision about what's best for the job at hand.

* Finish. While coated stocks can be more expensive than their uncoated counterparts, they are the best choice for many direct mail pieces because their smooth surface reflects light evenly and they offer minimal dot gain (when ink absorbs into the paper and spreads, causing a blurring of graphics and type). The most popular finishes for coated sheets are gloss, matte and dull; which type you use will depend on the nature of the job.

For graphic-heavy pieces such as brochures, print industry consultant Steve Waxman recommends gloss-coated stocks because they will give you the crispest images and most vibrant colors. However, light reflecting off the gloss sheet is harder on the eyes, so for copy-heavy pieces such as letters and reply devices, Waxman recommends using a dull-coated stock if you can afford it and a matte if you can't afford it or if it is a throw-away item.

For BRCs, reply devices and any piece you would like to ink jet on, Waxman asserts that matte is the best choice because its uneven coating has more "tooth" to it, giving the ink something to adhere to. Dull is the second best choice, because while the coating is more even, it is not as smooth as gloss. Regular ink will smear or wipe off the slicker surface of a gloss sheet.

Another option when it comes to coating is the textured finish achieved through an embossing process. Because these finishes--linen, tweed and pebble are common types--are not smooth, they are not ideal for image reproduction, but their rich texture make them good candidates for letters, reply devices and inserts in more formal direct mail packages.

The less expensive uncoated sheets also can be useful for many applications in a direct mail package, but because the ink will absorb into the sheet and spread, images will appear muddy, advises Waxman.

When using an uncoated sheet for direct mail, you can minimize this effect by opting for a blue-white, bright sheet. Brightness, states Waxman, relates to how much light is reflected; the more light reflected, the crisper your images will look. Also, you can use a calendered sheet, which is an uncoated stock that has been processed smoother than other uncoated papers.

* Perfing. Paper weight is important to keep in mind if your piece has a perforation. On-press perfing requires no less than a 20 lb bond sheet and no more than 80 lb cover; lighter stocks will tear and heavier stocks can result in smashing or moving around on press, states Waxman. If you are using a stock at the lighter end of the spectrum, Waxman suggests using a microperf, in which the teeth that create the perforation are smaller and closer together; this will help lighter sheets perf without tearing. If you want to go heavier than 80 lb, your perfing should be done on a letterpress, but this may cost more.

* Coating. Like paper finishes, coatings come in a variety of styles. They can be used to protect your printed piece from scuffs and fingerprints and to create visual effects. The three main kinds of coating are varnish, aqueous and UV; each of these also offers a number of options.

Varnish is cheaper than other coatings and can be applied through any standard ink unit, states Waxman, but the trade-off is that it is not as brilliant or as protective. It comes in gloss, matte and dull finishes.

Aqueous coating rests in the middle; it is glossier than varnish, not as glossy as UV, but offers more options than both. Aside from its visual properties, it can be used to seal the ink to the paper quickly, allowing for shortened drying times. Many presses have aqueous towers built in, allowing the coating to be applied as your job comes off the press. Aqueous coating comes in gloss, dull, satin and matte finishes.

UV coating is the crispest, glossiest coating option. However, many printers will have to send pieces out to be UV coated because they do not have the technology in-house, states Waxman, which can make it very expensive.

Coatings can be particularly useful in giving your job a visual that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. For example, while images reproduce best on glossy stock, the glare can make copy difficult to read. If you have a brochure in which both the images and copy are equally important, you can print it on a glossy stock and use a dull aqueous coating to reduce glare to enhance readability.

Another technique, suggests Waxman, is to use spot coating, in which the coating is applied only to certain parts of the piece using a die. This can be used both as a design element to make products or words pop and as a practical tool. Like glossy stocks, the smooth surface created by a coating makes writing and ink jetting near impossible. Instead, you can coat a piece, knocking out just the places where you want to ink jet or prospects will want to write.

* Consistency. While there are many paper options out there, an important part of making your paper selection work in a direct mail package, states Waxman, is to be consistent. While you may want to use a gloss-coated stock for your brochure and an uncoated sheet for your letter, remember that colors and images will reproduce differently on the different styles of paper.

To minimize this, look for stocks that are comparable in grade, brightness and color. Another option is to use different stocks and apply the same coating to each to give them a similar feel and finish. A third option is to just not match at all: "It's better that you not match at all than almost match. The more consistent you can be with the paper on any level, the more consistent your color will be; coated and uncoated just won't match, so plan for it and do something that is intentionally different," states Waxman.

Steve Waxman is a consultant serving the printing industry. He also writes a tips column for the Printing Industry Exchange's monthly enewsletter. He can be reached at

For more tips, news and resources for direct marketers, visit Target Marketing Online at:

Answer the Phone: Your Identity is on the Line

Beverly Hills, CA -- (ArriveNet - May 06, 2005) -- There hasn't been much good news in the battle against identity theft lately, with fraudsters staying one step ahead of the game. But don't panic, our old friend the telephone has come to the rescue.

We're all aware of the problem of identity theft, but did you know that your local pizza chain has had a solution for years? You recognize it as the system that prevents little Johnny from having twenty pizzas delivered to your door at midnight: the pizza chain calls you immediately after the order is placed to verify the validity of the order. Because little Johnny is afraid to be caught, he'll think twice about causing this pizza-related havoc.

TeleSign's patent-pending verification system has transferred this pizza concept to the high-tech world. It works like this: after filling out a form on a website, the user is prompted to enter his phone number. A robotic system then places a call to that number and speaks aloud a unique three digit code. Once that code is entered into the website, the authentication is complete. This system can be implemented at any point on a website: at registration, purchase, a specific time interval, or at the request of a user.

Email verification is the current standard for user authentication, but email may end up filtered, junked, bulked, or trashed. Because of spam, viruses, and phishing, email filtering has become so aggressive that even legitimate emails don't reach the inbox. But a telephone call cannot be stopped, making this the perfect time for the introduction of TeleSign’s solution.

The future of ecommerce is threatened by rampant fraud and lack of trust. TeleSign will force anonymous users to expose their faces by revealing their working phone numbers.

To try an interactive demo, visit ( and have your phone ready.

For more information about TeleSign’s products and services, visit ( or email

About TeleSign Corp.
TeleSign is a leader in innovative internet security solutions and provider of intelligent telephone-based verification solutions for any entity conducting business online where trust is essential and where fraud is a concern. TeleSign’s patent-pending Verification System provides a critical layer of security for the e-commerce world and is a proven deterrent against ill-intentioned web users. The company’s first product, the TeleSign Verification System, blends the latest internet, security and telephony technologies into a powerful new tool to combat fraud and enhance trust in e-business.

TeleSign Corp. seeks to provide simplified solutions for any company conducting business online where trust is essential and where fraud is a concern. TeleSign’s patent-pending Verification System provides a critical layer of security for the e-commerce world and is a proven deterrent against ill-intentioned web users. TeleSign’s Verification System is able to legitimize a web user’s claimed identification at a miniscule cost and with little inconvenience to all parties involved.

TeleSign’s Verification System is based upon the premise that ill-intentioned web users hesitate to disclose their working phone numbers. By placing a computer-generated telephone call coupled with a unique security code, we insist that a web user provide a legitimate telephone number or be rooted out. The company’s first product, the TeleSign Verification System, blends the latest internet, security and telephony technologies into a powerful new tool to combat fraud in e-commerce.

Visit or call 310-276-5900 for more information.

TeleSign Corporation
Contact: Sam Gonen
Telephone: (310) 276-7843


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