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Understanding Paper Types for Zine Printing

Posted on 30 May 2023
A variety of paper types offered by Ex Why Zed for zine printing

Welcome to the definitive guide on choosing the right paper for your zine printing. We’re Ex Why Zed, the print company you’ve been looking for, run by creatives for creatives. We’re here to transform your ideas into print, and we’re going to do it with a smile. So, buckle up and let’s dive into the world of paper types for zine printing.

What Are the Options for Custom Zine Printing?

At Ex Why Zed, we believe in giving you as much freedom as possible. We’re not here to restrict you, but to guide you. We have a paper sample pack we can send out to you, which contains our house papers. These are called our house papers because we keep them on the shelf, ready to go at all times. The rates that we get from these on the paper mill are exceptionally good. So we’ve got House Uncoated, Silk, Gloss and we’ve got Evolution Uncoated. All of them come in a range from about 100gsm (which is a flimsy paper) up to 350gsm, which is a really chunky card. The inside pages of your zine, we can max out at 170gsm, the cover we can max out at 350gsm. 350 can be too rigid, so we’d suggest you limit it really at 300gsm. 350 is overkill.

Zine Printing Paper: A Closer Look

Let’s take a closer look at our house papers. Our House Uncoated is a bright white finish. It’s got no shine, it lends itself well to colour reproduction. The images sit on the paper well and they’re quite vibrant. If you compare it against Evolution Uncoated, which is slightly off white and has got a bit of a grain. It is 100% recycled, but we will be honest, Evolution Uncoated soaks up the ink. So if you’ve got dark images that are already lacking in contrast, if you print them onto Evolution Uncoated, the contrast is going to be muted even more. It’s not great for colour reproduction, but it is 100% recycled and it is slightly off white, so a lot of people are looking for that solution.

An artist considering different paper types for zine printing

Personalised Zine Production Choices: Silk and Gloss

Next up is silk. Silk is just a good middle ground paper. It’s going to make your colours jump off the page, it’s got a slight coating and slight sheen on the surface. It feels smooth, is quite bright white and comes in a good range of weights. The 130gsm weight is your go-to for the inside pages, 300gsm for the cover. Again, we’d recommend matt lamination.

We move onto gloss. Gloss paper is exactly what it says on the tin, glossy. It’s going to have a lot of shine. Gloss zines do look really cool. We print them so rarely (probably because our website really leads people away from gloss) but if you want your images to be really bright and colourful that is a winner. It looks impressive and striking. So, gloss again, 130gsm for the inside pages, 300gsm for the cover. You can then even add gloss lamination, or you could mix it up and go for a matt lamination, which would be quite a nice dynamic between the matt lamination on one side and the gloss card on the other.

Zine Printing Ideas: Choosing the Right Paper

Samples of different paper types for zine printing

Choosing the right paper for your zine can be a game-changer. Depending on your subject matter, some of the paper choices are probably going to be better solutions than others. Black and white images in particular are always tricky. You either print the images in CMYK and they might end up with a green or a magenta colour cast, because we are printing the black ink in four colour, so there is cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink going into making up those solids. Or you drop your images into Photoshop and convert them to grayscale, that will mean that we’re only using black ink to print the images. This is discusses in far more detail on our Battle with Black and White printing video.

Unfortunately, we are going to be pragmatic and honest here: they’re never going to look the same in print as they do on screen. Your screen is probably an RGB monitor and it’s backlit. Obviously ink goes on to paper. Paper is a flat surface, it hasn’t got a light behind it. But if you give somebody your Zine, sell them a Zine, the images are going to have a charm and a tactility that they just don’t have if you send them a PDF. Nobody wants to look at a PDF, do they, and smile over it? They’d rather have a Zine in their hand. They can flick through it, it’s something to hold, something to cherish. A PDF is just a file that you can look at on screen. So while your images might not look identical to how they originally were when they were taken, they’re still going to look great and we can play with it with the hard copy proof to ensure that they do look as good as possible in print.

What Are the Paper Options for Zine Printing?

Black and white images, you probably are safer going for our house uncoated or our house silk. I would strongly avoid Evolution Uncoated. Full colour images would absolutely fine on any of our paper types. If you are unsure, we’ll run a hard copy proof as a safety net so you can see exactly what you’re going to get. Do allow an extra week for that and then an extra week for the final print run with a little bit of wiggle room in between. Maybe a day or so for you to actually digest it, look at it and make changes. So altogether two, two and a half weeks for the whole process. If you just went ahead with a print run straight away, then we can probably get a Zine back to you in three to five working days, depending on the number of pages and the number of copies you go for.

Best Zine Printing Companies: Why Choose Ex Why Zed?

With our years of experience and a keen eye for detail, we’ve earned our spot as one of the best zine printing companies out there. We’re not just about printing; we’re about creating a product that reflects your imagination and enthusiasm. We’re about making your zine the best selling piece of art it can be.

A display of different paper choices for zine printing at Ex Why Zed

Zine Paper Types FAQs

What paper should I print my zine on?

The best paper for your zine depends on your content and the look you’re going for. Our house papers offer a range of options, from uncoated and silk to gloss and Evolution Uncoated. We can send you a sample pack to help you make the best choice for your zine.

What is the best paper size for zine?

The best paper size for your zine depends on your content and design. We offer a range of sizes and can print bespoke sizes to fit your unique vision. Whether you’re creating a pocket-sized zine or a larger publication, we’ve got you covered.

How many sheets of paper should you use to make your zine?

The number of sheets in your zine can vary greatly depending on your content and design. Some zines are just a single sheet of paper folded into a booklet, while others can be dozens of pages long. The length of your zine should be determined by your content and your creative vision.

What is the best paper GSM for zine?

The best paper GSM (grams per square meter) for your zine depends on your design and the feel you want for your publication. For the inside pages, we can bind up to 170gsm and for the cover, we can max out at 350gsm. However, 350gsm can be too rigid, so we’d suggest you limit it really at 300gsm. For a more ergonomic, reader friendly cover, you could choose 200 or 250gsm which are easier to open and becoming more of a favourite at Ex Why Zed HQ rather than a thicker option. Here is an example of a zine with a thinner cover which we really like:

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to understanding paper types for zine printing. Whether you’re an artist looking to share your work, a storyteller with a tale to tell, or simply someone with a passion for self-publishing, we hope this guide has given you some insight into the process of choosing the right paper for your zine. Remember, at Ex Why Zed, we’re here to help you transform your ideas into print. So, what are you waiting for?

Let’s get started on your zine printing journey today and grab a print quote.

Freshly printed zines showcasing different paper types
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