“Going with the flow” on paper grain

Unless you are an experienced graphic designer, you may not have considered paper grain – the direction of the weave of your paper. But making sure you use paper grain to your advantage will add to the look of your next printing project.

Just as wood has a grain, paper too, has a discernable direction that is determined when it is made. Paper fibers are sent through rollers while the wood fibers are wet, aligning the fibers in one direction. When dry, the paper is cut and finished, and identified as either “grain short” (grain is parallel to the paper’s short side) or  “grain long” (parallel to the long side.)

How can you use this information when planning a printing project? Here are some ideas from HPG:


  • Never mix grain directionsin booklets or pamphlets. Mixing paper directions can give you:

    • Pages that resist turning

    • Edges that are wavy or flare outward

    • Bulky or distorted binding edges

    • Books that snap closed when you try to open it



  • Always fold paper parallel to the grain direction. Paper folded against the grain (especially if it is heavy stock) may crack along the folded edge.

  • Using a laser printer to print? Some laser printers will jam if paper printed in the wrong grain direction is used.

Your HPG rep can help you with paper grain direction on your next printed piece.