Understanding Different Paper Types: Your Comprehensive Guide

Written by Kraig Downham, Marketing Director at Printing Partners

Choosing the right type of paper for your printing needs can be transformative for your project's final look and feel. Whether you're a professional graphic designer or a small business owner creating marketing materials, understanding the nuances between satin paper, matte paper, and glossy finishes can significantly impact your output.

Coated paper typically has a surface sealant that imparts varying levels of glossiness. This treatment not only enhances the paper's look but also its durability. Uncoated paper, without any finish, offers a natural and more absorbent surface, excellent for writing. For businesses, choosing between coated vs. uncoated paper can affect how your printed materials are perceived.

Understanding Gloss Paper

Coated Paper

Shiny Paper

Coated paper, with its glossy texture, improves print quality by providing clear details and reducing ink spread. Its special coating stops the paper from soaking up ink. This makes images and text look sharp and bright, as though they have just come off the printer.

This type of paper is available in finishes such as gloss, matte, dull, and satin. These choices make it adaptable for different kinds of projects.

Deciding between glossy vs. matte paper often comes down to the purpose of your printed material. Glossy paper, with its vibrant colors and shine, is suitable for photographs and marketing materials that need to pop. Meanwhile, matte paper offers a more subdued look that's easier on the eyes for reading. Understanding these differences can help you choose wisely based on the context of use and audience preferences.

Stack of Magazines printed on matte paper

There are many brands of Coated Paper

Anthem Plus Paper Logo
Billerud Blazer Digital Paper Logo
Kallima Paper Logo
billerud productolith pts Paper Logo
Sappi Flo Paper Logo
Sappi LusterCote
Sappi Spectro Paper Logo
Westrock Tango Paper Logo
Westrock PrintKote Paper Logo
Gloss coated can provide unparalleled vibrancy and clarity, making them a popular choice for intricate designs. They boast a high gloss finish that’s both lightweight and economical – ideal when you need quality without breaking the bank. The coating on this high gloss paper reduces ink absorption, ensuring that the vibrant colors of your printed images remain vivid and true, regardless of their intensity.
Find Specific Information About Gloss Paper Kinds
Understanding Gloss Paper
Satin paper offers a perfect balance between gloss and matte finishes with vivid, striking colors. Its lower shine level provides excellent contrast and image clarity ideal for printing beautiful or professional items such as coffee table books.
Learn More About Satin Paper
Satin Paper: The Sophisticated Balance in Printing
Matte paper is your go-to for situations where glare is a concern. Its non-reflective surface makes it perfect for flyers, posters, and reports that are read frequently under direct light. This type of paper is excellent for texts and graphics that require optimal readability without the shine, making it ideal for both matte paper prints and high-quality photo printing when a subtle finish is desired.
Learn More About Matte Paper
Square Hardcover Book Printed in the USA
Dull coated paper is the perfect balance between matte and glossy. Offering a smooth surface with just enough shine to capture attention. Its unique level of luster creates an eye-catching effect that’s sure to stand out in any medium.
Learn More About Dull Coated Paper
Open artwork book printed with matte paper on a table, blurred background

Coated One Side and Coated Two Sides Paper

C1S is coated on one side, while C2S has coating on both sides. They come in various thicknesses from 8pt to 24pt, offering flexibility for a range of projects.

C1S is ideal for products like book covers and packaging, where it's important to have a high-quality feel on the printed side. In contrast, C2S's dual-sided coating is perfect for producing a glossy finish. This makes it a great choice for high-quality items such as postcards and brochures.

C1S is great for projects needing a top-quality finish on only one side. In contrast, C2S excels when you need to print on both sides of the paper, as it brings out bright colors and clear details. Your choice between C1S and C2S should consider the finish you want, the type of print job, and the thickness of the paper required.

Learn More About C1S Paper

Learn More About C2S Paper
Understanding Gloss Paper

Uncoated Paper

The opposite of gloss, uncoated paper is a popular choice for print jobs, but it does have its drawbacks. Inks absorb directly into the stock without any surface sealant to protect them. This results in dull colors that lack vibrancy and depth.

No shortage of options exists within this category. You can select from finishes like wove or smooth, and textures such as linen, to suit different preferences.

The Benefits of Wove or Smooth Paper

There are many brands of Uncoated Paper

Lynx Paper Logo
Cougar Paper Logo
Mohawk Paper Logo
Astrobrights Paper Logo
Rolland Opaque Paper Logo
Lettermark Paper Logo
EarthChoice Paper Logo
Husky Paper Logo
Neenah Royal Sundance Paper Logo

Wove or Smooth Paper

Wove paper, with its smooth finish, ensures that printed materials look impressive. Its construction provides both durability and flexibility, ideal for creating professional-grade prints. Additionally, its flexibility is well-suited for digital printing process. The paper's surface holds ink effectively, reducing the risk of smearing or fading.
Learn More About Wove Paper or Smooth Paper
Handling Wove Paper With Care

Laid Paper

Laid paper is a unique and elegant textured paper, characterized by criss-cross ribbed lines on its surface. This quality makes it highly suitable for crafting distinct stationery items such as letterheads, envelopes, and business cards, enhancing the professionalism of corporate communications.
Learn More About Laid Paper
Texture of laid brownish recycled paper in vertical format

Linen Paper

Linen paper is renowned for its textured, fabric-like finish that adds a touch of sophistication to any document. Ideal for business stationery, resumes, and invitations, linen paper stands out with its high-quality feel. If you're considering linen paper for printing, remember it's best used where a touch of elegance is essential.
Learn More About Linen Paper
Linen Paper Texture

NCR Carbonless

NCR (No Carbon Required) Carbonless Forms are a modern solution for making instant copies of documents. These forms have a special coating that uses pressure from a pen or printer to create duplicates. They are great for making multiple copies of invoices, receipts, and order forms without using messy carbon paper.
No Carbon Required or NCR Carbonless Forms or Pads
Mirror Paper 18Pt C1S Brilliance Silver Metallic Polyester Paper

Specialty Papers
Like Mirror Paper

Specialty papers cover many unique and specialized types, each with its own features and benefits for different printing projects. Among these are eco-friendly Recycled Paper, made from post-consumer waste and great for green initiatives. Metallic Paper brings a luxury shimmer, ideal for upscale invitations or business cards. Then there's Translucent or Vellum Paper, semi-transparent, adding elegance to overlays and artistic designs.

The range of specialty papers also includes practical and innovative types. Water-Resistant/Waterproof Paper is essential for outdoor use or in damp areas. Security Paper helps safeguard important documents from forgery. Kraft Paper is valued for its strength and natural look, and Self-Adhesive Paper is commonly used for stickers and labels.

Other noteworthy types are synthetic polyester paper, known for its durability, and magnet-backed paper, ideal for magnetic marketing materials and products. Each kind of specialty paper can improve the final print, adding aesthetic appeal or functionality.

Paper Weight

Paper weight is a crucial factor in choosing the right paper for any printing project. Understanding the thickness of paper is essential in this process. Accurate measurement of paper thickness can significantly influence the choice of paper for specific uses, affecting aspects like print quality, durability, and overall presentation.

Instruments like calipers, thickness gauges, and micrometers precisely measure paper thickness. Each instrument has its own benefits and accuracy levels. For example, micrometers offer exact measurements, crucial for maintaining quality in printing projects. For more information on these measuring tools and how they help in choosing the right paper for different printing jobs, click here.

Man measuring thickness of the paper sheet with micrometer at the printing plant

Text Paper Weight

Text weight ranges from 70# to 100#, thicker than standard writing weight but lighter than card stock, perfect for many uses. The 70# type is great for brochures and catalogs; thick enough to stop ink from bleeding through, vital for printing on both sides.

The 80# variant, is heavier, suits premium magazines and corporate reports that require a high-quality feel. The heaviest, 100# text weight, has a substantial feel, ideal for book covers and upscale marketing materials. As the weight increases, so does the thickness and opacity, providing a wide variety of options for different project needs.

Perfect Bound Binding Style for paperback books

Writing Paper Weight

Writing weight, usually used for official letterheads and stationery, commonly includes 24# and 28#. The 24# strikes a balance between strength and usability, favored for business letterheads and professional documents. In contrast, the 28# is heavier than 24#. Perfect for upscale impressive look. This weight can feature a watermark, adding a sophisticated touch.

For everyday business communication, 24# paper works well, offering a professional appearance without being too thick. For more formal or high-level communication, the sturdier and more refined 28# paper is the choice. Writing weights are adaptable and fitting most printing methods. They also serve well for a range of personal and professional communication needs.


Cover Paper Weight

Cover stocks, with their heavy weight and stiffness, are ideal for durable and high-end applications. Available in weights such as 65#, 80#, 100#, 120#, and 12pt, they are much thicker and stiffer compared to text or writing weights. Their robustness reduces folding and creasing, giving the final product a solid and luxurious feel.

65# cardstock is suitable for items such as report covers, business cards, and postcards. It's sturdy yet not overly thick.

For heavier needs, 80# and 100# cover stocks are better. They're thicker and firmer, ideal for high-quality book covers, fancy business cards, and invitation cards. The heaviest types, 120# weight and 12pt stocks. These are best for luxury items like high-end packaging and heavyweight business cards, where you need the most strength and a luxurious feel.

Short Run Digital Printing Company Indianapolis

The Importance of Paper Texture: Enhancing Your Print's Feel

Paper texture can significantly enhance the tactile experience of your printed materials. Textures like paper texture linen and silk paper printing options provide a unique feel that can make your materials stand out. Whether you're looking to impress with business cards or want your wedding invitations to be memorable, the right texture can make a substantial difference.
Linen Paper

Paper Opacity

Selecting the right paper goes beyond color or texture choices; its opacity significantly impacts your print's visual impact. Opacity is affected by its weight, composition, and how much ink it absorbs.

Absolute transparency is rated at 0% opacity, while complete opacity is 100%. For instance, tracing paper is an example of low opacity. Mastering the use of various opacities can enhance the depth and quality of your designs.

Paper Opacity Sample


In summary, the right selection of paper is a cornerstone of exceptional printing. Different types are important for successful printing projects. The thoughtful choice of these materials elevates the appearance, tactile experience, and functionality of the final product.

At Printing Partners, we're committed to guiding you through this critical selection process. If you need printing paper near me, our skills and wide range of high-quality options guarantee that your project exceeds your expectations.

Let us help you transform your vision into a tangible masterpiece. Reach out for a detailed printing estimate and embark on a journey to bring your creative aspirations to life.

Understanding Gloss Paper

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Kraig Downham, Marketing Director, at the Top of Mount Everest

About the Author

Kraig Downham is the Marketing Director at Printing Partners, a key player in the offset commercial printing industry. Joining the company in 2005, Kraig has been instrumental in driving advancements in marketing, design, and technology. As a color expert, he is committed to delivering superior quality prints that meet the highest standards. His strong work ethic and dedication, honed during a 10-year journey with 4-H, have made him a pivotal figure in the company. For more about Kraig's professional endeavors, please visit his detailed profile.

  • Page updated April 12, 2024