Choosing Paper for Your Printing Project... Part 1
Paper comes in all colors, weights, and finishes; and sometimes our customers know EXACTLY what paper they want. More likely, we'll take in a project where the client won't have a clue what they want, or even need.
When choosing paper, we need to know some paper lingo. Let's start with the surface of the paper. Is it Coated or Uncoated? There are different types of coating, based on how shiny it is. Gloss is the smoothest and most reflective. It’s perfect for photos or flyers; anything that needs a quick visual POP. Matte is on the other end of the scale. It reflects very little light, so it’s easier on the eyes when reading text. Paper companies don’t have any rules for how they categorize coatings. There are a lot of in-between terms – Silk, Satin, Dull – but each is still coated and takes ink very well. Some papers are coated on one side and uncoated on the other, called C1S (for “coated 1 side”). With both sides coated it would be C2S, but it's generally just called Coated.
Uncoated sheets have different surfaces called Finish. Most common are Smooth, Vellum, Felt and Embossed. Again, some paper companies like to be fancy and come up names like “Super Smooth” or “Laser” to describe the finish of their paper. Ink lays down well on most of them, but you’ll want to be careful when using toner-based printers or copiers. This is especially true with Embossed papers like Linen (cross-hatched like fabric) or Laid (similar to corduroy) since the toner won’t sink into the deeper crevices of the paper.
Once you know what the surface is, you’ll want to figure out the thickness. This can get VERY confusing, since it involves three aspects: Caliper, Weight and Bulk.