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3 Ways Design and Planning Can Make Up For the Paper Shortage

The global paper shortage isn't stopping anytime soon, despite last fall's outlook. Supply issues are affecting each step of the papermaking process, including wood supply. Now, not only are paper prices skyrocketing, but some types of paper cannot be found. Even foreign sources are not a viable option since shipping and distribution are being disrupted on a global level.


Fortunately, designers and print buyers can make up for many of these shortages with some preplanning and design techniques. Below are three ways design can overcome current challenges that commercial printing is facing.


1. Pay attention to background details

We often use specialty paper to enhance our designs. But without the availability of colored, textured, or other specialty stocks, we can still apply some of these looks.

Colored stock is the easiest to mimic at the design stage. To get the look of colored paper, use a design with a background color extending to the bleed lines. For a fluorescent look, try a PMS color in your print run as your background.

Textured stock is also simple to mimic. Stock images of texture at a high resolution can be used as a background. With so many print colors and graphics available, it opens up a world of options.


2. Design more self-mailers

Envelopes can be impossible to find in some sizes right now, but there are options available if you get creative.

Instead of including an envelope for return mail, consider using a postcard or a self-mailer that is designed to fold on itself, eliminating the need for an envelope. Pro tip: If you usually send return envelopes, now is a great opportunity to measure the effectiveness of the new self-mailer in comparison to previous mailings. Maybe you'll find that your ROI is better with a different solution!


3. Explore other substrates

Paper may be in short supply, but don’t forget about plastic and metal. This might not be cost effective for direct mail purposes, but point-of-purchase (POP) displays don’t have to be paper based.

Longevity is a concern with some substrates, but metal and plastic are more durable, although potentially more expensive. It is important to consider how long you need to use the same POP display to achieve ROI.


The extra planning and attention to detail early on can make a big difference. The paper shortage is an obstacle, but the situation isn’t dire. It’s time to get creative in the ways that we plan and design.

Pro tip: We have a full design team at Vomela that can help you get creative with your direct mailers, POP displays, and other printables. Contact us for help on your next project!


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