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Making the Right Paper Choice


Choosing the right paper for your print is very important. The right paper will not only suit the document itself but it can also play a vital part in reflecting your brand.


There is an incredible range of amazing paper and board available in many finishes, from metallic coloured, to speckled and lots of different textures and thicknesses. In amongst this enormous choice are the varieties that are most commonly used – silk/gloss coated and uncoated/offset. Let’s look at the differences between these papers and try and give you some help when it comes to choosing which you should use.


Coated paper and board starts out life uncoated. Coating is a process whereby an agent such as china clay or latex is applied to the surface using various blades and rollers and fills all of the miniscule pits between the fibres in the base paper. This results in a sheet with a very smooth, flat surface and produces thinner sheets than uncoated paper of the same weight. The coating can range from dull (matt) to bright (gloss) – silk is somewhere in the middle.


Printing on coated paper generally produces a brighter, sharper, more vivid image and is therefore commonly used for promotional documents such as brochures and leaflets or anything where there are high quality images that need reproducing to the highest standard.


Uncoated paper has a rougher feel to it than uncoated paper although the degree of roughness can vary. The average uncoated paper (sometimes referred to as offset) has the kind of finish that a typical copier paper would have although there are varieties that are made especially for digital print that are a lot smoother in order to work better with this particular process.

Uncoated paper is more porous than coated paper, absorbing ink more and preventing toner from providing a consistent coverage, giving a duller and more matt finish. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however as this kind of finish can be very desirable depending on the message being communicated – for example a brand trying to reflect a wholesome, green or organic image will often use a ‘rough and ready’ looking uncoated paper or board.


Paper and board is usually measured by its weight in grams per square metre or ‘gsm’. Typically, the higher the gsm the thicker the sheet although, as mentioned before, coated paper is usually thinner than uncoated paper of the same weight due to the compressing of the fibres during the production process. Board is also often measured in microns as well as gsm to give a true measure of the thickness of the sheet. To give you an idea of the different weights, letterheads are usually printed on 90-120gsm and business cards on 300-400gsm.


Of course we are always here to offer advice on the best paper for you and your print. In addition, to help you further with your choice of paper for digital print, we have produced a swatch showing our full range of standard coated and uncoated paper and board. To request your FREE copy please get in touch and give us your name, company name, address and telephone number, mention that you’d like a free paper guide and we’ll send you a copy.




*NOTE: All of our standard paper is FSC or PEFC certified in recognition of the fact that it is responsibly sourced from sustainable forests. We also have 100% recycled products available on request.

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