Choosing the Best Paper Types for Your Printing Projects:

Written by Kraig Downham, Marketing Director at Printing Partners
Are you looking for the best paper for your printing needs? This guide is here to help. It explains the different types of paper you can choose. Learn about glossy, matte, and uncoated paper. Each type has its own benefits for different printing jobs.
Understanding Gloss Paper
FSC Certified Printing Company

FSC® Certified Paper

At Printing Partners, we understand the importance of sustainability in printing. Our FSC® Certified Paper options reflect our commitment to environmental stewardship while ensuring high-quality print results. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council®) certification means that the paper is sourced from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.

FSC certified papers are ideal for businesses and individuals looking for eco-friendly printing solutions without compromising on quality. Whether you are producing corporate reports, marketing materials, or custom packaging, choosing FSC certified paper helps promote sustainable forest management and supports your green initiatives.

Understanding Gloss Paper

Coated vs. Uncoated: What's the Difference?

Coated sheets feature a glossy layer that enhances durability and makes colors pop—perfect for photographs and vibrant prints. Uncoated sheets, without this gloss, have a natural texture conducive to readability and writing. They absorb ink differently, yielding softer color reproduction, ideal for everyday printing where ease of reading is paramount.

  • Coated Paper: This type is often called gloss when it has a high shine and matte when it is less shiny. A coated finish is great for making images look sharp and vibrant.
  • Uncoated Paper: This is the most common type of paper used in offices. Ideal for printing documents that need to be easy to read, like reports and forms.

Coated Paper

Shiny Finish

Coated paper, with its glossy texture, improves print quality by providing clear details and reducing ink spread. Its special coating stops the material's fibers 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 kinds of projects.

Deciding between glossy vs. matte paper often comes down to the purpose of your printed material. Glossy finishes, with its vibrant colors and shine, is suitable for photographs and marketing materials that need to pop. Meanwhile, matte finishes offer 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

Many brands of Coated Sheets exist.

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
A gloss finish makes colors pop and sharpens images, perfect for high-quality photos and eye-catching marketing materials. The special coating prevents ink absorption, ensuring that images appear crisp and vibrant.
Find Specific Information About Gloss Paper Kinds
Understanding Gloss Paper
Satin offers a perfect balance between gloss and matte, providing vivid colors with a lower reflection rate. This finish is ideal for creating professional book covers and high-end brochures. Perfect for clear images without excessive glare. Publishers often print coffee table books with a satin finished sheet.
Learn More About Satin Paper
Satin Paper: The Sophisticated Balance in Printing
For situations where minimal glare is essential, matte is the preferred choice. Its non-reflective surface works well for materials that people handle frequently, like reports and posters. This finish enhances readability by reducing eye strain under direct light. 
Learn More About Matte Paper
Square Hardcover Book Printed in the USA
Dull coated finishes strike an ideal balance by offering a subtle luster that captures attention without overwhelming glare. This finish is perfect for projects that require a touch of elegance without a high shine. It works well for corporate reports and art books.
Learn More About Dull Coated Paper
Open artwork book printed with matte paper on a table, blurred background

Coated One Side (C1S) and Coated Two Sides (C2S)

One Side Coated (C1S) paper is ideal for printing book covers and packaging. Perfect for situations where the outside appearance is important, but the inside does not need to be as fancy.

C1S has a coating on one side that provides a smooth and glossy finish. The printing industry commonly uses this type of substrate for its versatility and high-quality appearance. It provides a glossy exterior with an uncoated interior, offering a cost-effective solution for various applications.

Learn More About C1S Paper

Double-sided Coated (C2S) has a coating on both sides. This makes it ideal for high-quality marketing materials such as brochures and postcards. This attribute ensures vibrant colors and fine details on both sides, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal.
Learn More About C2S Paper
Understanding Gloss Paper

Uncoated Stocks:

People like uncoated paper because it has a natural finish. Perfect for writing and printing without any added shine. This material absorbs ink more deeply, resulting in a softer visual effect. Great for business stationery, books, and any project where a tactile feel and easy readability are important.

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

Numerous Uncoated Sheet Brands Exist

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 substrate'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 finish, 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 sheet stands out with its high-quality feel. If you're considering linen finish 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 a messy carbon slipsheet.
No Carbon Required or NCR Carbonless Forms or Pads
Mirror Paper 18Pt C1S Brilliance Silver Metallic Polyester Paper

Specialty Papers
Like Mirror Paper

Specialty substrates cater to unique aesthetic and functional demands. Among the standout options:

  • Mirror Paper: (18pt C1S Brilliance Silver Metallic Polyester shown here) has a shiny finish that looks like a mirror. Perfect for making visually appealing presentations and premium business cards. The luxurious sheet catches people's attention with its design. Ideal for creating high-quality printed materials.
  • Recycled: Ideal for eco-conscious projects, made from post-consumer waste.
  • Metallic: Adds a shimmering luxury to invitations and upscale cards.
  • Translucent (Vellum): Provides an elegant, semi-transparent finish for overlays and special projects.
  • Water-Resistant/Waterproof: Essential for materials used in outdoor or damp conditions.
  • Security: Offers protection for important documents against forgery.
  • Kraft: Valued for its durability and natural look, perfect for eco-friendly packaging.
  • Self-Adhesive: Used for convenient labels and stickers that require easy application.
  • Synthetic Polyester and Magnet-Backed: Durable choices for challenging environments and promotional materials that need to adhere to metal surfaces.

Paper Weight

The sheet's weight is a key factor that impacts the durability, handling, and print quality of your projects. It is often measured in two ways: pounds and points.

  • Pounds (#): This measurement indicates the weight of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a standard size. For instance, a text weight might range from 60 to 100 pounds, suitable for the inner pages of books and brochures, indicating a lighter, thinner paper.

  • Points (pt): One point equals 1/1000th of an inch. Paper described as "12 pt" is 0.012 inches thick. This measure is typically used to describe the thickness of cardstock or cover stock, providing a direct indication of paper stiffness and durability. Higher point numbers mean thicker, sturdier paper.

Measuring Paper Weight

Accurate measurement of paper thickness ensures that you select the right paper for your needs. Tools like calipers, thickness gauges, and micrometers are essential for measuring paper thickness precisely, confirming that the paper meets your project's quality standards.

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

Text 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 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 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 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

Sheet Opacity

Understanding Opacity in Paper: Opacity refers to how much print shows through from one side of the sheet to the other. It's an essential characteristic to consider, especially when printing on both sides of the paper. Here's how different levels of opacity suit various printing needs:

  • High Opacity: Sheets with high opacity are perfect for double-sided printing as they prevent text and images from showing through the opposite side. Ideal for documents such as reports, brochures, and manuals where clarity and professionalism are crucial.
  • Medium Opacity: Suitable for single-sided prints and standard office documents. These sheets offer a balance, ensuring that the print remains clear without the added cost of high opacity materials.
  • Low Opacity: Often used for artistic purposes or specific effects, low opacity sheets allow some show-through and can be used creatively for overlays or nuanced design elements.
Paper Opacity Sample


Choosing the correct subtstright and opacity levels is crucial for achieving the desired results in your printing projects. It ensures that your printed materials look professional, feel right, and convey your message effectively.

If you need help picking a finish, weight or printing tips, please reach out to us for more information. Contact Printing Partners if you have more questions. Our website has useful information for your printing needs. We want you to succeed in printing, and we're here to help you make smart choices that improve your projects.

Understanding Gloss Paper

Paper FAQs

Is your printing company having trouble sourcing printing paper?

We have made strategic moves to have the paper types you need.
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 May 6, 2024