The Difference Between Paper Finishes

The type of paper used in your print job can make all the difference to the success of your print job. It is important to be aware of the different types of finishes available and the effect these can have on what you are trying to achieve with your collateral.

Uncoated (natural look with an earthy feel)

Uncoated paper is exactly as it sounds - it is a paper product that has no additional finish or coating applied to it. Think what you would typically find in your photocopier but available in a much wider range of paper weights.

Since there is no coating, it will produce no glare when placed under lights and is ideal for prints that have a lot of text or other materials designed to be read.

It is possible to get higher quality grades of uncoated paper that have a much smoother finish such as a Knight or Splendorgel stock. These are commonly used in higher quality print publications.

Uncoated paper has increased in popularity recently due to the ability of the stock to convey a natural and earthy feel to the print. It must be noted however that due to the nature of uncoated stock, it is very porous and will absorb the ink when it is printed. As such it will not be quite as sharp as a coated stock for high end photo reproduction or similar types of images.

Gloss (shiny, with images that 'Pop')

A gloss stock is one that has been highly calendared during production to produce a smooth, coated stock that has a significant level of sheen in the stock. It is similar to what you would typically see in a glossy magazine.

As gloss paper is 'shinier' it is typically used to make the colour in images pop when they are printed. For this reason, it works well for print with heavy coverage, particularly photos and graphics. 

The coating on the paper reduces the level of ink absorption into the fibres of the paper which means it is excellent for giving a very sharp and vibrant print.

Satin (great for printing text & photos)

Satin paper is similar to gloss in that has a coating over the paper but it is a lesser level of coating and calendaring which gives it a 'semi-gloss' type of look.

As it has a lower level of sheen it does not have the same level of glare as the gloss paper and is quite often preferred for jobs that have a mixture of text and photos as it will produce a high quality print but be easier to read than a gloss stock.

It should also be noted that the terms satin, silk and matte are used interchangeably when describing this type of stock.