Types & Grades

When you are choosing a paper for your project, what do all the paper terms mean? I am going to try and sort that out for you. It's not difficult, all you have to remember is that it doesn't matter how amazing the design is if it's printed poor quality paper, the overall project won't look its best. Below you will a selection of projects we have designed and printed on different paper stocks.


During the manufacturing process, all paper starts out as uncoated. Paper is made out of bleached wood fibres, fillers, clay and caulk fillings. At the end of the papermaking machine, it‘s sometimes covered in a white clay or clay and caulk filler which covers up the small crevices creating a smoother finish.

This coating creates a sheet that is less porous than uncoated paper. In the printing process, a coated paper, therefore, doesn’t absorb inks as much as an offset or uncoated stock. During the printing process, the inks are not absorbed, as such, they stay on the top of the paper and provide a more glossy appearance. This makes the images, type and photographs look a lot sharper.

This is not to say that all coated stocks are glossy, they are available in a variety of finishes such as dull, matte or silk. These finishes make it easier on the eye for reading long type passages. Unfortunately, the inks also look less glossy as a result.


These are the opposite of gloss, matt and silk papers as they have no coating applied during the manufacturing which leaves a much more porous surface resulting it a slightly coarse texture. Uncoated papers a commonly sold by office stationery companies for use in home/office printers.

It is also frequently used in sheet form by commercial printing in varying grades for the production of business stationery, desk pads and is perfect for stationery such as business stationery including letterheads and compliment slips as well as the internal (or text pages) of brochures and reports.


Gloss papers have a high shine and are often used for flyers, leaflets, brochures and are very common for in direct mail. Once printed this paper provides great image reproduction with bold punchy colours because the ink sits on the surface as it dries. There is no need to put as machine seal or varnish on the surface as the ink does not rub off on your fingers.


This is a high-quality uncoated writing paper and is often used as a standard sheet in many laser and inkjet printers for daily use.


Matt papers have no shine and such do not refract light in the same way that gloss papers do. Its applications and reproduction are the same as gloss. This paper type takes longer to dry and a machine seal or varnish is generally required to seal the ink onto the sheet and prevent it from rubbing off.


Like many renewable products recycled papers carry a premium price. There are numerous recycled papers with a varying degree of recycled paper pulp, anywhere from 10% to 100%. Depending on the percentage of recycled material that is used will affect the opacity (brightness) of the sheet. The higher the percentage the more off-white the sheet is can to become. Heavy bleaching processes can disguise low opacity in some highly recycled sheets.


Silk paper is a happy medium between gloss and silk and is commonly used for brochures, newsletters and magazines. The coating on the material is smooth and has a feeling of silk but there is no shine. We will be able to recommend whether you require a machine seal or varnish or may suggest one as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of ink rubbing off onto the sheets above and below - a process called "Set Off".


Laid papers with fine ribbed lines or wove papers with an exceptionally smooth surface are used for higher-end business stationery. There is also a large range of subtle white’s colours and textured surfaces to suit individual needs. It is often easy to specify matching envelopes to complement the stationery set. Needless to say these sheets carry a premium price.


If you want something a little different from white coated or uncoated paper there are a number of both UK and European Paper merchants that produce some exquisite papers in a myriad of colours and textures to suit your tastes.