HPG cautions against “going against the grain”

Did you know that paper, like wood, has a “grain” or direction that is determined during the papermaking process? When commercial paper is produced, it is sent through a series of rollers while the wood fibers are wet.  This process tends to align the fibers in one direction. The cut and finished paper is then identified as either “grain short” (grain is parallel to the paper’s short side) or  “grain long” (parallel to the long side.) This is something that needs considered when designing and planning a printed project.

Being knowledgeable about paper grain will ensure your finished pieces "go with the flow" and will enhance the quality of your project. Understanding some of the more common paper grain issues can also maximize your paper and printing investments – and help you avoid costly reprints.

Here are a few suggestions from HPG regarding paper grain:

  • When you are binding a book, always make sure the paper grain of every page is parallel to the binding edge of the book. If a book is printed with the paper grain parallel to the spine it will open more easily and lay flat.
  • Do not mix grain directions in book pages to avoid:
  • Edges are wavy
  • Pages that resist turning
  • Bulky or distorted binding edges
  • Pages flaring outward
  • Book snaps closed when you try to open it
  • Always fold paper parallel to the grain direction. Paper folded against the grain may be rough and crack along the folded edge. The heavier the paper, the more likely roughness and cracking will occur.
  • If your product will go through a laser printer during the end use, you must keep grain direction in mind.  Some printers will continually jam if paper with the wrong grain direction is used.

Be sure your next printed piece goes with the flow rather than against the grain, ask your HPG rep for information about grain direction.