Whether you've just purchased a printable from my Etsy shop, or you're using one of my free downloads, these tips will help you to get the most out of your printables.
Choosing the right card or paper
The first thing to think about is the paper that you're going to print on. The quality, thickness and texture of the paper you choose will make a massive difference to the final print result.
Generally, thick card and textured card will give more professional results and is best suited to display items such as posters, wall art or positive affirmation cards. For more practical printable items, such as the printable planners or challenge trackers, standard quality printing paper will be just fine.
A note on paper density:
Paper density is measured in GSM, which stands for grams per square meter - the higher the GSM the thicker and heavier the paper will be.
As a rough guide, standard printing paper for everyday use is around 80 gsm. 120 gsm would be more high quality paper - the sort of paper you'd use for presentation items such as a CV, flyer, leaflet, or perhaps even a poster. When we get to around 160 gsm, this is what is categorised as 'cardstock'. At 160 gsm this will be thin and light-weight card. For more sturdy card you'd need a paper thickness of around 250 gsm or higher.
It's important to be aware of the limitations of your home printer - a lot of home printers will start to struggle to handle the thickness of the card at around 300 gsm, perhaps even slightly lower - so be sure to check the specification and capabilities of your printer before purchasing thick cardstock!
Below are some paper and card options you may like to consider for your home printables.
270 gsm 'hammer' textured card
The positive affirmation cards pictured below have been printed on 270 gsm cardstock from Paperchase. This card is thick and strong, with a beautiful 'hammer' textured finish.
As mentioned above, please check the specification and capabilities of your printer before purchasing, as some home printers may struggle with the thickness of this card. My own home printer says that it accepts a maximum paper weight of 300 gsm. However, it definitely struggled a little with this 270 gsm paper. I got there eventually - and the final print result was lovely - but I did have to manually apply a small amount of pressure to feed the paper into the printer!
216 gsm 'canvas' textured card
The posters pictured below have been printed on 216 gsm 'canvas' textured card from Papermania.
This card is not quite as thick as the hammer textured card from Paperchase, so it should fit easily through most home printers with no problems at all. It has a lovely traditional 'canvas' texture to it, resulting in a retro-style printout, which looks almost as if it could have been hand painted.
Adjust your print quality settings
To get the best quality print out of your printer, remember to change your print settings, depending on what you're printing.
The exact options available will vary between printer makes and models - but in your printing preferences you will more than likely have a 'print quality' option, where you can choose between 'draft,' 'standard,' or 'high.'
For display items such as wall art or positive affirmation cards you'll probably want to choose the highest possible print settings - this will result in a slow printing speed which uses up a lot of ink - but you'll get the best possible print quality, with sharp and vibrant colours.
For things like worksheets, planners and challenge trackers the print quality is perhaps not quite so important - so the 'standard' setting, or perhaps even the 'draft' setting will be just fine, and will save you some ink.
You may wish to do a quick draft print on cheap, thin paper, using the lowest quality 'draft print' setting first.
This way, you can double-check that everything on your printable comes out as expected before using up your probably much more expensive, high quality printing paper or cardstock!
Cutting your printables
Some of the printables I have in my Etsy shop and in the free printables vault will require cutting. The positive affirmation cards for example - these are designed to print out either 4 per sheet or 8 per sheet, and then you'll then have to cut the cards out.
The most obvious way to cut the cards out is with a pair of sharp scissors - however, even with the utmost care, it's surprisingly challenging to cut a dead straight line with a pair of scissors!
For a more professional - and dead straight - cut I'd recommend using a paper cutter, such as the one I'm using in the picture below - a Firbon A4 paper cutter purchased from Amazon.
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