If you are to embark on a new print project it’s a good idea to understand the paper basics. What types of printing paper and board can you choose from.

With such a vast range of available types of printing paper and board, we provide the explainations so you understand your options when talking to a commercial printer.

From gloss art, silk or uncoated paper to textured, recycled or coloured paper, what should you use for printing? What is the difference? How will it affect the result of your print job?

To help you choose and make the process a little less stressful, we will answer these questions. We’ll address some of the more common aspects relating to cost, problems and the comparisons of the types of printing paper and board available, so you understand the difference.

Print Paper Types and choosing in a 3-step process.

There are many different paper types available and we have separated them easy into understand categories.

If you want to travel from A to B you could choose for instance, a car or a motorcycle. Both will do the same job but either may have benefits that will be better suited to you.

Let’s say you have chosen a car. Next you would research and pick the manufacturer based on your perceived needs. Third you would then pick the specific model you wanted. Paper is essentially chosen in a similar way, highlighted in our 3-step process below.

  1. Pick either a coated or uncoated paper. We discussed the differences in our previous article Coated Paper Vs Uncoated Paper.
  2. Choose the variations within each range. Which is what we will focus on in this article.
  3. Finally decide on the specific paper type or board type with specific finishes, textures, colours, weights and even specialist brands. See our Luxury Papers article.

Print Paper Types – The variations.

We have taken stage one of our above 3-step process and segmented the paper type variations into coated and uncoated, so that you can clearly identify which paper and board sits where.

Coated Papers

Gloss Art Papers

Gloss has a high shine, it is often used for flyers, leaflets, brochures and is common in direct mail. Once printed this paper provides great image reproduction with bold punchy colours because the ink sits on the surface as it dries. There is no need to put as machine seal or varnish on the surface as the ink does not rub off on your fingers.

Matt Coated Papers

Matt has no shine and thus does not refract light in the same way that gloss does. Its applications and reproduction are the same as gloss. This paper type takes longer to dry and a machine seal or varnish is required in most instances to seal the ink on the sheet and prevent ink from rubbing off.

Silk Coated Papers

Silk is a happy medium of gloss or silk and is commonly used for brochures, newsletters and magazines. The coating on the material is smooth and has a feeling of silk but there is no shine. Your commercial printer will be able to recommend whether you require a machine seal or varnish or may include one as a matter of course.

Uncoated Papers

These are the opposite of gloss, matt, silk and has no coating applied during the manufacturing, leaving the surface porous resulting it a slight coarse texture. It is the sheet sold by office stationers for use in home / office printers. It is used as a sheet in commercial printing in different grades and is perfect for stationery such as letterheads and note pads.

Bond Papers

This is a high quality uncoated writing paper and is often used as a standard sheet in many laser and ink jet printers for daily use.

Recycled Papers

Like many renewable products recycled papers carry a premium price. There are numerous recycled papers with a varying degree of recycled paper pulp, anywhere from 10% to 100%. Depending on the percentage of recycled material that is used will affect the opacity (brightness) of the sheet. The higher the percentage the more off-white the sheet is can to become. Heavy bleaching processes can disguise low opacity in some highly recycled sheets.

Watermarked Papers

Often used as a sheet of choice in the professional services industry to give a feel of quality. The uncoated sheets are stamped with the desired logo or wording during the manufacturing process using a metal die to achieve the deserved effect. It leaves no embossment on the sheet. Bespoke versions can be specified which can be used as security features, such as with currency or in education and government bodies.

Textured Papers

Laid papers with fine ribbed lines or wove papers with an exceptionally smooth surface are used for sophisticated business stationery. There are also a large range of subtle white’s colours and textured surfaces to suit individual needs. It is often easy to specify matching envelopes to compliment the stationery set. These sheets carry a premium price.

Specialist types of printing paper

There are many more specialist types of printing paper available from a handful of UK Paper merchants. To understand more about the vast options should you wish to consider totally bespoke printing see our article on Luxury Papers.

If you want something a little different from white coated or uncoated paper there a number of premium manufacturers who produce an array of textured, coloured and types of printing paper. The most interesting and unique printing paper types tend to be uncoated.


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