Paper Types – Coated vs. Uncoated

Paper is probably the most confusing part of our industry. Hopefully you will find this information enlightening and helpful.

There are basically 2 main categories of paper: coated and uncoated.  When paper is made, the finished product is uncoated paper.  To produce coated paper, a thin layer of clay is applied to either 1 or both sides. This layer improves how light reflects off the paper. Coated paper creates a surface more suitable for high-resolution printing. Uncoated is ideal for anything a person will need to write notes on or sign. Uncoated is not suitable for line screens above 150dpi. (We’ll explain dpi in another issue).

  • Coated papers are either Gloss, Semi-matte, or matte.
  • Gloss = hi gloss and sheen
  • Semi-Matte/Silk/Dull = Medium gloss and sheen
  • Matte = low sheen

Use the following checklist as a guide to decide whether you should choose a coated or uncoated stock.  Keep in mind, these are just guidelines – if you have something special in mind, ask us about it!


  • I will need to write on the finished piece
  • My file is a letterhead/envelope or needs to be ink jetted
  • I want to reduce glare for a piece going behind glass
  • I am NOT trying to enhance picture quality
  • My file is mostly text/graphics or in 1-2 colors


  • My file contains high-quality graphics
  • I want to enhance my full-color piece
  • I have many photos in my file
  • I prefer a high-gloss look

Once you decide whether your job will run on coated or uncoated stock, you have a large selection of additional choices including paper weight, texture, and color.

So remember – when starting your project, paper selection is an important decision to make that will affect the final look of your printed piece.

Call for a quote today 719-488-2544