When you print your materials, you have a choice between coated paper, also known as gloss or matte paper, and uncoated paper. Each comes in various weights and brightness levels. Your choice will determine how your printed documents look and feel. There’s also a cost difference, so it’s important to make the right choice. Here’s a guide to the types of paper and when you should use each.
Coated paper is also known as gloss or matte paper. It’s paper that is sealed with a transparent coat. Typically, manufacturers use a blend of kaolinite, calcium carbonate, bentonite, and talc to create the coating. Like wood that’s been varnished or painted, coated paper has a protective finish that looks shiny and/or feels smooth.
Ink does not sink into coated paper. It stays on the surface, and this gives the images rich color saturation.
There are several types of coated paper.
- Gloss-coated paper: This is the shiniest coating. It supports high-contrast resolution and can reproduce the most colors than other types of paper. Some full-color magazines use gloss paper because it creates stunning colors and sharply defined images. It also makes printed text pop.
Gloss-coated paper is good for magazines that are heavy on images, such as fashion and art magazines. It is also good for catalogs and brochures. However, the gloss coating can cause glare, which can make text difficult to read.
- Matte-coated paper: Matte-coated paper has a light layer of gloss. It has a light shine and a smooth touch, but it doesn’t feel as slick as gloss-coated.
This is paper with no coating. It is more porous than glossy paper. Ink colors soak into the uncoated paper rather than sitting on the surface. This gives colors a softer, more muted, warmer appearance.
This paper has a natural feeling because the wood fibers are more exposed than they are in coated papers.
Uncoated paper is the best choice for a paper that you want to write on. Coated papers don’t allow you to write on them easily, which you’ve noticed if you’ve ever tried to scribble a note or underline a phrase in a glossy magazine.
Uncoated text paper is the right choice for notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, calendars, appointment books, notepads, and greeting cards.
Uncoated Paper Finishes
Uncoated paper gives an elegant look to any project. The paper feels natural and is easy to read. It is a good choice for letterheads, printed envelopes, and gift cards.These papers have several finishes you can choose from.
- Wove paper: One of the most common finishes, this is a standard paper type. It is an uncoated paper with a subtle woven finish. Wove paper is a popular choice for booklet covers and business cards.
- Bond: This paper gets its name from its history as the paper of choice for government bonds. Today, it is the most common paper for most business use and photocopying. It is inexpensive and multi-purpose, which makes it the most widely used type for offices.
- Laid: Laid paper has a slightly ribbed appearance with fine lines running both horizontally and vertically across the page. It mimics the look of fine, handmade paper. It is a popular choice for covers, brochures, and personal cards.
- Linen: Embossed lines create a feeling like that of linen cloth. This elegant finish is a classic choice for stationery, handmade greeting cards, business and legal correspondence, and wedding stationery.
- Felt: Felt textures are achieved using a special roller.
- Vellum: Vellum paper has a soft eggshell finish that makes it excellent for many uses. Vellum is a popular choice for the interior pages of books, art catalogs, and newsletters. Note: Don’t confuse vellum-finished paper with vellum, which is transparent paper.
- Smooth: As the name implies, this is paper with no finish. To make this, manufacturers use a process known as calendaring, which involves passing the paper through a set of rollers. You can use smooth paper for anything, but it is best suited to business correspondence, brochures, employee manuals, and catalogs.
How Do They Compare to Each Other?
Here’s a quick summary of how the two paper types stack up to each other.
Advantages of Coated Paper:
- Shiny, attention-getting look
- Glamorous and vivid
- Produces vivid images
- Better suited to two-sided printing because it doesn’t bleed
- Comes in several finish choices
- Difficult to write on
- Some finishes can crack when folded
Advantages of Uncoated Paper:
- Elegant, traditional look
- Natural and muted
- Available in a variety of finishes
- Easy to write on
- Costs less than coated paper
- More porous
- Produces more muted, subtle colors
Understanding Paper Brightness
When considering paper choices, it’s also important to understand which papers are brighter than others. The brighter and whiter the paper, the more vivid your colors will be and the more your text will pop. Paper brightness is measured on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the number, the whiter the paper.
How do you know if the paper you’re buying is truly bright? Look for a number that’s 80 or higher. For comparison, note that the bond paper used in most offices for photocopying and other needs is generally in the 80s.
Paper used for business stationery and wedding stationery might be in the 90s. Photographic paper is usually in the high 90s. Don’t rely on terms like “bright white” or “ultrabright,” which are marketing labels. Look for an actual number to determine if the paper you’re buying is truly bright.
Put It All Together
When you’re choosing paper, start by consulting with your professional printing company. You can ask for samples that will show how your project will look on different paper types. In general, use gloss and matte paper for posters, catalogs, fashion magazines, and art books.
Use uncoated paper for stationery, business cards, sketchbooks, notepads, and journals. These are just general guidelines, however. Make your decision once you’ve seen how the print and images look on different finishes.
We’re Here to Help
The choice of paper is an important part of any successful print project. At Dazzle Printing, we can help you choose the right stock for your documents. Our website provides many helpful articles, and we’re always here to help. Use our estimator tool to get an instant quote for your job, and call us when you’re ready to start.