Papers and boards

Types of papers and boards and their uses

Selecting materials

Materials can be selected based upon their working properties. It is important to know and understand which materials can be used for a specific purpose:

  • How do they look?
  • What are they commonly used for?
  • How can they be manufactured?
  • How do they perform in use?
  • What makes them unique - are they the most durable, the lightest etc?

Paper and boards should be selected based upon the purpose for which they will be used. This could include:

  • packaging
  • drawing and sketching
  • model making

Selection criteria could include:

  • how easy it is to recycle
  • how expensive it is
  • what it will be used for
  • if it has any special properties, eg better for printing, rigidity, transparency etc.

Papers and boards have been developed for a lot of different purposes. Paper and board can be:

  • textured
  • embossed
  • printed on
  • laminated with other materials to make them waterproof, eg drinks cartons
A stack of mock-up business cards on white textured paper.


As the paper-making process involves cutting down trees to create wood pulp, as well as using harmful chemicals such as bleach, it is important that we can recycle paper and cardboard so that new wood pulp, needed to create paper, is kept to a minimum. Paper is originally made from cellulose fibres found in wood and grasses, which makes them renewable.

Cost is also a consideration when designing, and designers should be able to calculate costs involved. It may be that different providers charge different amounts, and the designer will weigh up the comparison of cost and service before deciding who to use.


A sheet of paper could be priced at 3p per A4 sheet. A manufacturer needing to purchase 1,000 sheets would use the following formula:

Total cost = individual price × quantity needed

Total cost = 1,000 × 0.03 = £30.00

Note unit changed required. The price of each sheet of paper is given in pence, which needs to be converted to pounds.


A designer requires 300 sheets of embossed A4 paper, costing 15p per sheet. What is the total cost?

Total cost = individual price × quantity needed

= 300 × 0.15 = £45.00