The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Paper for Printing

There are many different paper types you can use for your projects. They vary in composition, design, purpose and even weight and thickness. Each one offers bespoke design options you can utilise in your print. Because of this, each type is exciting in its own way. 

Types of paper for printing

You need to choose the right type for your print projects. So what types of paper for printing are available to you? Let’s explore eight of them.

Matte Coated and Gloss Coated Paper

Matte coated and gloss coated paper are two sides of a visually-appealing coin. Gloss paper has an incredibly high shine and a smooth tactile feel. It’s a popular choice for leaflets and flyers because it enhances colours. 


Image credit: Oh Magazine

Matte is the opposite. It has a muted surface that refracts light subtly and evenly, reducing any glare. It also has a soft, textured feel to it.

Matte coated paper is very popular when used to create magazines, books and other larger copy-based print, as it lacks the reflective ability of gloss coated paper. In contrast to gloss, matte coated paper is also really easy to write on.

Silk Coated Paper

Silk coated paper is the medium between gloss and matte coated. It’s a great paper type for printing on. It has the smooth feel of glossy paper but without the shine. It’s made by binding silk fibres together, creating quite a luxurious feel.


Image credit: Awagami

As magazines are commonly read using electric light, gloss coated paper can sometimes be difficult to read due to the glare caused by its reflectiveness. Silk coated paper avoids this but also still carries the premium feel that gloss-coated paper can possess.

That being said, tastes are changing. Silk and matte coated paper options are becoming more and more popular and are associated with independent brands who want to retain a minimalist aesthetic. 

When combined with a LED UV printing process, silk-coated paper provides a brilliant ink to paper contrast. This type of paper is a true luxury item and you won’t find it used in everyday brochures.

Bond Paper 

Bond paper is a durable, robust and long-lasting paper type. 


Image credit: Lifewire

As it lacks a coating, it has the advantage of easily being used for printers or pen-use. Although, this is also a disadvantage. It might be prone to damage such as tears, scuffs and stains as it's uncoated.

Quick Fact: How Is Paper Made?

If you really want to know the exciting process behind the way paper is made, you're in luck. To make paper, cellulose fibres are extracted from various natural sources such as wood and cotton.

They’re blended into a pulp with water, flattened and dried then cut into sheets. The process varies for different types of paper and a lot of them have different properties.

Now for more paper types and some important information on weights.

Uncoated Paper

Similar to bond paper, uncoated paper is also typically found in office printers. It has no coating at all which makes it the perfect medium for ink use and absorbency.

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Because it lacks a coating, it has the advantage of easily being used for printers or pen-use. Although, this is also a disadvantage - as it’s uncoated, it might be more susceptible to damage such as tears, scuffs and stains.

Carbon-balanced Paper

Carbon-balanced paper is unique. This is where the paper has been evaluated for how much CO2 has been emitted during its production and transportation. It’s a simple and effective way for organisations to reduce the environmental footprints of their printed media.

Some print providers have opted for carbon offsetting techniques at the point of manufacture to make sure the paper they use is carbon neutral. 

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Carbon offsetting is done through techniques such as giving forests a protected status, locking in the carbon that would have eventually been released through burning or destruction. These protected forests continue to absorb carbon from the atmosphere through their growth. 

Watermarked Paper

Watermarked paper is a great way of representing your company and offers a more bespoke paper type for printing with. It contains an identifying image or pattern which can be seen when viewed in certain lights. 

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Watermarks are perceived as sophisticated and professional when used in printed documents. It’s most commonly used in currency as it’s the perfect way to guard against counterfeiting or forgery.

For a more cosmetic style of watermark, you can use embossing and debossing, laid papers and hammered papers to create a bespoke watermarked feature. This gives your paper that unique touch which you only find with premium brands.

A Guide to Paper Weights

Paper weights vary. The technical definition for the weight of paper how much a sheet of paper with a surface area of one square metre. It’s measured in grams per square metre (gsm). Along with different paper types, it’s a way of distinguishing different papers on the market.

The weight of paper is often decided by its thickness but it can also be affected by other attributes such as:

  • A high wood fibre content can increase the thickness and weight of paper.
  • To achieve certain visual and tactile results, some paper processors include additives to the pulp. 
  • The type of processing used can affect the density of the paper, with a higher density pulp creating thinner paper and a lower density pulp creating thicker paper.

Weight is important in print because the wrong weight of paper can lead to issues with print. For example, if you choose a very light paper for leaflets, you may be able to see through the sheet which ruins the look of the print on both sides.

So, let’s break down the different paper weights and what they’re good for:

  • 90gsm: This is uncoated paper and isn’t subjected to chemical treatments. It’s great for large quantities of text so it’s the perfect type for books, printing documents and headed paper.
  • 130gsm: This type is best used with a matte or gloss finish and ages very well. It’s the perfect paper weight type for posters, magazines, brochures and flyers.
  • 170gsm: This paper weight type is used for thin paperboard. It’s a versatile type of paper as it’s available in recycled versions, coated, matte or gloss finishes and even satin. It’s used primarily for catalogues, presentations, certificates and posters.
  • 350gsm: This paper weight type is ideal for business cards, covers and invitation cards as it’s a semi-rigid paperboard.
  • 380gsm: One of the heaviest paper types, 380gsm is best used for folders, packaging, rigid book covers, product tags and display covers.

With all these types of paper, the best option you can go for is to make use of the knowledge of an experienced print provider.

Prepare for Printing With Insights From Experts 

With deadlines looming and the clock ticking before you launch your online campaign, we could understand if making sure your file is a PDF is the least of your worries. 

Here at B&B Press, we’re always trying to make it easier for our customers. That’s why we’ve created a brilliant print guide to advise and inspire you through each stage of creating your print. 

For more tips on preparing artwork for print, you can contact an expert printing professional like B&B Press or download our ‘Guide to Creating Brilliant Print’ below.

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