Where can I order free paper samples?

I am looking to order some free paper samples for myself and clients. Where do I start here? Should I reach out to local printers or paper companies and what is the most common paper? I want to order what local printers actually commonly carry.

You want to reach out to the printer(s) you will be using. What’s common where you are may not be common where I am.

Free may not be an option, unless the printer is local and you schedule an in-person meeting. The samples may be free, but you might pay a shipping and handling fee.

Quite honestly, paper is part of the job considerations. A certain job may require ordering in a specialty paper if that’s what it calls for. A printer may have a swatch deck available to show you options, but they won’t let you take it away from the shop. If you want your own, you may have to contact the paper company and pay for it yourself.


Paper samples used to be given out freely by paper companies and distributors. Salespeople from the paper distributors would show up at agencies and studios where I worked with boxes full of expensive marketing books and brochures highlighting the capabilities of various papers. I still have dozens of years-old paper sample books from Mohawk, Neenah, Cranes, Hammermill, Strathmore, French, and others on bookshelves that I don’t want to throw away.

Choosing the perfect papers in precisely the right colors with the ideal textures was part of the design process.

Today, it’s changed. The paper companies still produce these books on a more modest scale, but they’re harder to come by. Maybe it’s different in some areas, but where I live, the salespeople no longer drop by unexpectedly with boxes full of them. Neenah sent me a big swatch book a couple of years ago, but that’s the last sample book I’ve received.

If you’re working with a good printing company, the salespeople will likely have access to paper swatch books you can look through.

You have me reminiscing about the better days of graphic design when everything wasn’t printed on white, coated, 80lb text or whatever the online gang printer has in stock.

A quick Google search turned up the following, but they charge money.



I’ve accrued quite a few paper sample books and never once paid for them. You can order this one from Smartpress for free. The local printers I work with will frequently give me older books of paper, swatches, foil, etc. once you build up a relationship.

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I went to re-order a paper I’ve used on one project off and on of the last 2 decades. Guess I haven’t ordered in a while. The whole mill was closed, no one bought the line either. Old swatch books tend to have a lot of “Discontinued” in them too.

Most of the online places will sell you a Sample Pack for short money, if that’s the route you’re using.
I always enjoyed going to a printer to select a paper. I don’t do that kind of print anymore. Now it’s trips to the printer to look at the latest greatest wide format media, which is even more fun!

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I still have many swatchbooks that I got from a huge paper store in Raleigh, NC that has now sadly closed up. They had hundreds of books for free that the paper companies provided. The paper companies still make these books but charge around 5 bucks for each one. Some ship them for free, some don’t. I guess the good old days are long gone.