The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Paper for Printing

There are many different types of paper for printing which 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, making each type exciting in its own way. 

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.

Recycled Paper

Recycled paper is sometimes a good choice if you’re conscious of your environmental footprint. It’s made from 60% to 100% recycled paper pulp — old paper mixed with water and blended until it breaks down. The individual fibres are then bonded together to make fresh paper materials. 

However, as paper fibres degrade after being recycled several times, fresh fibres from sustainably managed forests are required to maintain the renewable cycle, so virgin paper may be the greener choice in some scenarios.

Quick Fact: What makes paper sustainable? 

Did you know? Some trees are actually grown as a crop. 

There's a common misconception that paper companies indiscriminately cut down old-growth forests. However, it's important to note that the majority, if not all, of these companies actually practice sustainable wood harvesting methods. These practices are designed to ensure that there is no net loss of forest land. When paper is produced using wood from sustainably managed forests, it contributes to the renewable nature of this material.

Matte-Coated and Gloss-Coated Paper

Matte-coated and gloss-coated paper are two sides of a visually-appealing coin. Gloss paper has a high shine and a smooth tactile feel and is a popular choice for leaflets and flyers as it enhances colours.  

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 popular for creating magazines, books and other larger copy-based print, as it lacks the reflective ability of gloss-coated paper. In contrast, matte-coated paper is also easy to write on.

Silk-Coated Paper

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

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

Now, tastes are changing. Silk and matte-coated paper options are becoming more popular and are associated with independent brands that 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 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. 

As it lacks a coating, it can easily be used for printers or pen use and is generally a great type of paper for printing. 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 want to know the exciting process behind how 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, and then cut into sheets. The process varies for different types of paper, and many of them have different properties.


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Uncoated Paper

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

When looking to go down the sustainable route, uncoated paper is the way to go. Uncoated paper is the easiest to recycle, keeping the paper cycle going without disruption. The natural look and feel also reflects a focus on sustainability, resonating with your brand ideologies.

Carbon-Balanced Paper

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.

All the aforementioned paper types are able to be carbon balanced. It’s all about choosing a responsible supplier and making conscious decisions about your environmental impact when developing your print materials.

Carbon balancing is done through techniques such as giving forests a protected status and 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.

Out of all types of paper for printing, carbon-balanced paper is the greenest choice. By opting for carbon-balanced paper, you’re driving sustainability for your business.

Greener practices afford businesses several perks, including being more attractive to potential customers. In fact, 53-57% of customers switched to a lesser-known brand because the new brand is more sustainable, so it pays to be eco-friendly.

If you want to make a difference, our guide to driving sustainability can help you get started. Get your copy below.

Marketing manager's sustainability guide

A Guide to Paper Weights

The technical definition for the weight of paper is how much a sheet of paper with a surface area of one square metre. It’s measured in grams per square metre (gsm) and is a of distinguishing different papers on the market and paper types.

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 suitable for:

  • 90gsm: This is uncoated paper and isn’t subjected to chemical treatments. It’s ideal 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, making it ideal for printing posters, magazines, brochures and flyers.
  • 170gsm: This weight is used for thin paperboard. It’s a versatile type of paper, available in recycled versions, coated, matte or gloss finishes and even satin. It’s used primarily for catalogues, presentations, certificates and posters.
  • 350gsm: This 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 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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Explore the
Best of Green
Printing Tips

You’re probably well aware of the growing importance and demand of eco-friendly products.

Modern technology has made these kinds of items increasingly cheaper to produce and more visually appealing. They’re a great way of lowering your business’ environmental impact - but how exactly do you produce the best kind of print using these methods?

Our checklist will give you the best advice for creating an impactful sustainable print solution.