8 Jan 2013

Choosing the right paper for your design

A crucial part of the design process

Paper stocks in use in the litho printing industry are broken down into two broad categories, namely coated and un-coated.

Coated stocks;

  • Have a smooth clay coating over the base paper
  • The clay coating often accounts for as much as half the weight of the paper. The clay coating has no inherent strength in it and, because there’s so much less fibre in the paper it is considerably less stiff or snappy than that of an uncoated paper of similar weight. This is a particularly important consideration to bear in mind when specifying a coated paper stock for business cards or presentation folders.
  • Are particularly valued for their crisp and vibrant reproduction of four colour graphics and photographs
  • Are finished to a high gloss (cast-coated), dull gloss or matt finish
  • Matt finish coated papers are chosen for their look when a gloss coated paper is not appropriate for the ‘’feel’’ that the designer is trying to achieve. The printed result is every bit as good in respect of reproduction of 4-colour images, but it is imperative that this paper be given a matt varnish after printing as this paper is very prone to scuffing.
  • Are ideal for the production of brochures, magazines, coffee table books and other ‘’glossy’’ publications.

The advent of ‘Triple-coated’ coated art papers about 15 years ago is, in the opinion of the author, not really justified for use in terms of supposed gains in print quality as these gains have to be set off against decreased stiffness of the paper, a greater tendency to scuff and higher cost. In the vast majority of cases a double-coated art paper, with its higher stiffness, good colour reproduction, lower potential to scuff and lower cost will prove more than adequate in achieving the desired result.

Uncoated stocks;

  • Generally have a slightly fibrous surface rather than a smooth one.  Calendered papers are uncoated papers that are polished in the paper-making process and have a very smooth feel – more like coated papers.
  • Have a much higher fibre content 70-90% and, consequently, are a lot more stiff or snappy
  • Range from the very cheapest Bond papers through to the extremely expensive ‘high cotton content’ papers. The higher quality uncoated papers are generally referred to as Fine Papers. These come in a vast array of colours, grammages and surface textures and are an ideal choice for higher quality, bespoke, designs.
  • Are very popular for producing report covers, heavy brochures, business cards and invitations, especially wedding invitations.
  • The ink colours when printed onto uncoated paper will not be as rich and vibrant as is the case with coated papers.
  • Any Graphic Designer who is serious about their career would be well advised to make a thorough study of the uncoated papers available in their particular market as they can have a major impact on the ultimate appeal of the finished job that they are designing.

If any post press finishes are desired it is really important to assess your choice of paper before commencing with your design as the different paper stocks will perform to varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the processes desired. The table below gives a basic indication of what paper stocks are suitable with what process;

source :


Pure launches luxury brand identity for Adara jewellery brand

PHISHING NOTICE: PURE Creative takes your security seriously. Be aware of potential phishing scams. We are not recruiting content creators, influencers or promoters. Should you receive such a message claiming to be from our HR department, please report to connect@purecreative.co.za.