How to Organize Paper Sample Swatch Books


Photo courtesy of Print Pinball


This tip is for graphic designers that send so many projects to print that they need to maintain a shelf or shelves with paper manufacturer sample swatch books. If you only print a few projects and always use the same 4-5 papers, you won't have enough samples to be disorganized.


So one of my print vendors recently helped me organize our shelves at work into order, the same way that he organizes his swatch books at his office. This is what I learned:


Organize by categories


  • Sort into coated, uncoated and specialty.
  • Coated includes synthetic papers, flysheets, boards/C1S/C2s (coated one side, two sides), and regular gloss, satin and dull sheets
  • Uncoated includes opaque, offset and digital papers plus text and writing papers
  • Specialty includes banner and book cover vinyls, book cover materials, anything unique


Once sorted by categories, group by manufacturer.


  • You can group all the smaller manufacturers together in a miscellaneous group but bigger paper manufacturers like Neenah or Sappi will need their own sections.
  • If you have duplicates of the same paper sample book, look on the back or underneath the samples for the copyright and/or printing date. Keep the newer book and recycle the old one. If you would like to keep duplicates (hopefully all printed in the same year), then group them next to each other.


Within the manufacturer groups, organize by sheet grade/quality.


  • Sort left to right with premium, high cost sheets on the left and lower grade, economy sheets on the left.

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