All About Grammage

Not the most exciting thing in the world, but flying under the radar is the weight and feel of the paper on which the card is printed.

So here is the fairly definitive guide to grammage.

The grammage of a flat material like paper or card is a reference to its weight. It is measured in grams per square metre. The symbol is g/m² but ‘gsm’ is commonly used.

I’m only gong to talk about greeting cards, but everything I am say applies to cards and grammage generally.

For greeting cards, the material used to make the card is sometimes called paper, but more often than not it is called card stock. Yes, it is sometimes called paper, but as you can imagine, that sounds like a flimsy material out of which to make greeting cards. So, like most people, I use the words card stock.

The thing is that you would think that heavier grammage card stock would always feels crisper and thicker than a lighter card stock. In fact, it’s not true.

Other factors affect how the stiff and thick card feels. Factors such as the composition, density, and finish of the materials used to make the product play their part.

And while it may seem counterintuitive, a card with a higher grammage can sometimes feel thinner, more floppy, and flimsier than a card with a lower grammage.

What Grammage Is Desirable

It’s horses for courses, as they say. For typing paper 100gsm feels about right. It is not too flimsy. 120gsm can start to feel a bit over the top. With greeting cards it shouldn’t really need saying, but stiff card that feels snappy and rigid generally feels better in the hand than a floppy card that bends easily. But there are limits. Card that is too thick can feel like it is resisting being held because it is too stiff. Imagine a greeting card made from the 400gsm card stock used for heavyweight business cards. Using it for a greeting card would feel wrong.

As a rule of thumb, card around 280 to 300gsm is about right. Anything lower than around 280gsm is going to feel cheap. But with the 280 to 300gsm range is where we come to the fact that lighter grammage card stock can feel stiffer than heavier card stock.

And here’s why.

Dense Materials

The composition of the card can affect its perceived thickness. A card with a higher grammage might be made of materials that are less dense. That means it can have a bulkier appearance but less structural integrity. Conversely, a card with a lower grammage might have a more compact composition, making it feel sturdier.

Stronger Fibres

Cards with lower grammage often use stronger fibres or additives to compensate for the reduced mass. These additives can enhance the overall strength and rigidity of the card, making it feel more substantial despite having less mass.


The type of finish or coating applied to the card can influence its flexibility. Some cards with higher grammage may have a glossy or smooth coating that reduces friction and makes them feel more slippery or flimsy. On the other hand, a card with a lower grammage may have a textured or matte finish that provides a tactile sense of thickness and sturdiness.


Finally, paper and cardstock can absorb moisture from the environment, which affects their physical properties. Higher grammage cards, due to their greater thickness, may absorb more moisture and become limp or floppy. In contrast, lower grammage cards might absorb less moisture and retain their original shape and stiffness.

Portrait Or Landscape

Cards in portrait orientation tend to flop less. The top open corner might curl a bit, but that’s nothing compared to landscape cards that flop and curl like a collapsing tent. That said, tese things tend to happen less nowadays because houses are dryer than in earlier times.

If you want to see cards curling, go to a show where card publishers are displaying their cards. By the afternoon of day two you will see cards beginning to sag, and some more than others. The best advice is to get advice from the printer. Printers know a lot about the characteristics of print matter.

The Card Stock We Use

We used to use Condat paper, but we switched a couple of years ago to Invercote as mentioned in our About page. It is a white card with a smooth finish that feels crisp and dense in the hand. It prints with bold dense colours. And the inside surface (where you write your message) takes ink easily and resists smudging well.

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