When getting something professionally printed, there are a lot of variables to consider to ensure your printed piece comes out exactly the way you envision it. One of the most critical variables to consider is what type of paper to use. The choice of paper you use changes the look, texture, and weight of your final piece, all of which can make or break your printed piece.

With so many different paper types available, choosing the correct one can be intimidating. Seeking the help of a professional printer can always be a good option as they can guide you through the process and give you samples to feel and look at. But, to get you introduced to the world of paper, we broke down some of the general concepts for you below!

characteristics of paper:

1. coating

All papers can fit into two categories, coated and uncoated. Uncoated paper has a non-glare surface and is absorbent, while coated paper gets covered with a hard clay material that makes text and images sharper and colors pop. Coated paper can range in finishes, anything from dull, non-shiny, matte, glossy, and super glossy. 

2. Weight
Different paper thicknesses

Paper comes in a huge variety of weights, the weight determines the thickness of the paper. Often a heavier-weight paper is used for things like greeting cards, bookmarks, and business cards, while lighter-weight paper is commonly used for letterhead, flyers, and notepads.

3. brightness
Gradient of paper brightness examples

Paper brightness is measured on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the brightest. The brightness of a paper impacts the contrast, how readable an item is, and how ink displays on it. In general, a brighter paper is of better quality than a less bright paper.

4. opacity
A translucent wedding invitation

Opacity is how transparent a sheet of paper is. This is also measured on a scale of 0-100 with 0 being completely transparent (like tracing paper) and 100 being completely opaque. Opacity becomes especially important when something is printed on both sides of the paper.

paper types:

There are so many different types of paper and new ones are being created every day. Below are some of the most common types used in printing today.


This is the most commonly used paper type. This is a non-glossy and smooth finish. Ink dries quickly on this type which avoids smears and smudges.

2. Glossy

Glossy paper is coated with a high-shine polymer, this produces sharp, bright images and text.

3. Bright White

Bright white paper features a non-textured surface with a distinct white coating that brings a professional touch to images and text.

4. Copier and laser printer

This is the type of paper you can get in huge quantities and use for your at-home printer for quick jobs.

5. listing

This paper type is a ream of paper sheets that have perforated seams that get continuously fed into the proper printer type.

6. Photo

Photo paper is a type of glossy paper, however, it is only glossy on one side and has a higher weight, and is brighter.

Need help deciding what paper type to use? No worries, our print experts can assist you every step of the way! Just give us a call or send us an email!