Choosing Paper & Card

Select the right paper for every project.

Variations in paper

Paper and card vary in size, weight, colour, and finish, so it's a good idea to know what you're looking for in these areas when you're stocking up.


  • Most of us are used to using A4 paper in our everyday lives. It's the most commonly used size for printers, and fits in standard envelopes.
  • The largest standard paper size is A1, and each subsequent size is half of the one before it
Paper & Cards Buying Guide

Dimensions of each paper size:

  • A6 = 105 x 148mm
  • A5 = 148 x 210mm
  • A4 = 210 x 297mm
  • A3 = 297 x 420mm
  • A2 = 420 x 594mm
  • A1 = 594 x 841mm


  • A paper's weight is measured in grams per square meter or GSM.
  • The higher the GSM, the heavier the paper, for example regular printer paper will be around 80 to 90gsm, while card used for greeting cards is usually around 300gsm.

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Commonly used papers in art and craft

Writing and printing paper

Whether it's in pads, notebooks, or reams, this is the paper we use most often in our everyday lives.

Construction paper

Inexpensive, often brightly coloured, and usually with a relatively rough finish.

  • This paper is fantastic for creative kids, and should be a part of every art and craft station.
  • It's extremely versatile and can be used for anything from writing and drawing, to making paper chains, origami, and chatterboxes.
  • Generally sold in large pads with plenty of pages, it's easy to stock up and make sure there's heaps to play with.
  • Construction paper is inexpensive, so it's great to use for writing practice and creative experimentation.

Artists' paper

Papers designed for producing all kinds of art, these vary according to the type of media the artist will be using, and the finish they want to achieve.

  • While artist papers can be bought by the sheet, the easiest and most economical way to purchase them is in pads, sketchbooks, and visual diaries.
  • Check the finish of the paper before you buy. Some artists go for smoother paper, while others prefer a more textured surface to work on.
  • An artist's chosen media will interact differently to different papers. Experimentation is the only way to decide which paper works best for your personal style and preferences. Questions to consider as you experiment should include:
    • Do I like the way the paper looks and feels? Is it a pleasure to work with?
    • How does my paper respond to my media? Does the pastel rub off? Does the paint warp the paper? Is the paper rough in a way that damages my fine tipped pen?
    • How does my paper interact with the pigment in my chosen media? Does it bleed or get absorbed? Does it show up brightly, or is it dulled on application?
    • Is my paper archival? Am I making art that I want to survive over time?
  • Specialty watercolour paper is designed for use with watercolour paints and other wet media. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and finishes, and is resistant to buckling with moisture.
Paper & Cards Buying Guide

Poster board

Poster board is sturdy and solid, and stands up well both to being written on, and having other items adhered to it.

  • Most often used for creating presentations and displays, it's very useful for students making school projects and assignments.
  • Available in a large range of sizes and colours, making it easy to get exactly what you need for any particular project.


Thicker and stronger than regular paper, but thinner and more flexible than cardboard, cardstock is very versatile.

  • Depending on the specifications of your printer, cardstock can usually be printed on. For this reason it's often used for invitations and cardmaking.
  • Widely used in scrapbooking. Scrapbooking cardstock comes in solid colours as well as in a range of prints and designs.
  • Available in smooth and textured finishes.

Specialty papers

There are so many specialty papers available in different textures, sizes, and finishes. They can be put to an endless variety of creative uses. For example:

  • Flocked paper, with raised velvety details, makes elegant handmade wedding or party invitations.
  • Embossed paper adds a textured dimension to cards, scrapbooks, invitations and more.
  • Pearl and glitter paper will add shine to anything you create with it.
  • Rice paper is wonderful for creating soft layers in art and craft projects.

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Paper & Cards Buying Guide

Ultimately, most paper and card can be put to a multitude of uses, from the practical to the creative. We find the following combinations to be most effective:

Intended Use



Writing and printing paper, cardstock

Note taking and writing

Writing and printing paper, construction paper


Cardstock, specialty papers


Cardstock, specialty papers

School projects

Construction paper, cardstock, poster board


Poster board

In the classroom

Construction paper, cardstock, poster board


Cardstock, specialty papers

Sketching and drawing

Artists paper, construction paper


Watercolour paper

Paper & Cards Buying Guide

Still looking for craft & hobbies inspiration?

Check out Spotlight's range of Craft & Hobbies available online, visit your local store or contact one of our experts for assistance.

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