Printing So you have your project that you’re wanting to print, and you have an idea of what you want it to look like once printed. But which paper are you going to choose to achieve that goal?

Picking the right paper stock is arguably one of the most important parts of your project’s process, mainly due to how many aspects it can affect, from reproduction quality, durability, mailing cost and overall perception. Choosing the wrong paper could spoil what otherwise would be a great project.

So what considerations should be made?

The main criteria for consideration is – what you will be using the printed item for?

  • Is the item going to be mailed? Paper weight should be a major consideration as it could mean the difference between one pricing band and another.
  • Who is your target audience? E.g. if your audience is visually impaired they may prefer a matt or silk finish over a gloss.
  • Is the item going to be outdoors a lot? You may need an additional coating or waterproofing.
  • Are there going to be any perforated pages or tear out sections? You may need thin, stiff paper for this.
  • Are your audience environmentally conscious? You may want to make sure your paper is FSC accredited stock or made from recycled content.

After this, your next consideration should be how it looks

Many consumers are influenced by the way paper looks & feels – and this can affect your printability. In litho printing. There are typically 2 types of paper used:

Uncoated and Coated Paper

There are many types and weights of paper available (depending on the mill, retailer, and brand), and most of them will be offered by a reputable printer with good relationships with the major paper merchants.

Papers like these tend to be used for certain types of printed items. Below we’ve provided a general idea, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Coated paper

This paper has been coated with a substance that makes text and images look more vibrant and sharper. The coating can be applied to one side, both sides, or multi-layered in some cases. In general, the more layers of coating the paper has, the better the quality. It comes with either a gloss, silk or matt finish, and these papers are used mainly for:

  • Catalogues
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Magazines
  • Postcards
  • Items that won’t be written on.
Uncoated paper

During the paper making process, these papers are produced by using rollers (calendered/super calendered) to provide a smooth and polished finish, increase paper density and reduce thickness. Since these papers are uncoated, they are non-glare and easily absorbent and soak up ink. It can have a textured feel, but it can also be smooth like that of an office copier or printer. It would be best to use uncoated paper for letterheads, compliments slips, and items you need to write on, such as:

  • flyers
  • envelopes
  • newsletters
  • a final product you want to write on

The ink interaction with the paper is another consideration besides how the paper feels – how does the ink perform on the paper?

Your print supplier should be able to provide you with a sample of the paper that you intend to use so that you can see how the ink reacts with it.

We’ve already established that uncoated calendered paper (calendered paper is smoothed) absorbs ink so the image is printed within the paper due to absorption. To achieve the same quality image as a printer would on coated paper, more ink will be needed. Uncoated paper’s users are also thought to be more conscious of the environment and of their budget. So, when charities print fundraising materials or stakeholder reports, they will typically choose this type of paper. This type of paper has the disadvantage of requiring more ink to produce a good image, which means that it will take longer to dry than normal. Uncoated paper cannot be used to complete urgent print jobs or quick turnaround projects because it requires additional drying time.

Uncoated Super calendered paper has some characteristics similar to that of normal uncoated paper, but with a few exceptions. The primary disadvantage is that this paper can often be more expensive than using coated materials. A high gloss finish is provided by the off-machine process, and therefore will be much more expensive than ordinary uncoated paper. More ink is used to produce sharp images on coated paper, but due to the enamel-like finish created through the additional calendering process, images appear to be more on the surface of the paper than inside it. The paper will take longer to dry before it is ready for finishing, so once again it is not ideal for urgent turnaround jobs. The paper is primarily used in corporate reports and high-end product catalogues because of its perception of high quality, as well as its compliance with sustainability policies.

Matt and Silk papers have a porous coating, so the ink absorbs into the paper. As a result, the image lies flat on the paper and does not reflect. The paper is therefore ideal for brochures, product catalogues, and company reports for companies hoping to convey a message of understated quality and exclusivity. A sealer varnish is recommended when printing on Matt or Silk papers. This will prevent the image from rubbing or marking during the finishing process.

Gloss-coated paper produces an image that appears as if it’s sitting directly on the paper, making it vibrant, shiny, and bright. From a print production standpoint, it is considered to be the easiest material to use for printing, since it usually dries quicker than the other types of paper. As no sealer varnish needs to be applied, it is a cheaper printing option than that of matt or silk paper.

To speak to one of our paper experts about your upcoming project or for free advice on which paper you should use, then please do not hesitate to contact simon on 01323 419701 or email