Based on the quality of print you want to take, you can choose from many types of printing paper available in the market. With so many options, it often becomes confusing to even identify which one to use for which purpose. This post will sort out this issue, and give you a summary of all the printing paper types available today.
In addition to what is printed on a piece of paper, it is also equally important to make sure that it is printed on the right type of paper. If you are going to print an image, it is better to print it on glossy paper than on matte paper, to give it a professional look. Photographs need a glossy finish, which is difficult to achieve using matte paper. But at the same time, it is necessary to note that glossy paper faces the problem of glares and fingerprints, while matte does not. Let us see how many printing paper types are there to choose from.
Bright White Paper
The normal white paper that you use with the Inkjet printer is called the bright white paper, for obvious reasons. The shades of white may vary slightly, but they all have blue undertones, so that the black and colored inks used for printing on these papers stand out well, and you get a clear and crisp print.
The glossiness of this type of paper can be attributed to a clay called kaolin. This clay settles in the gaps between the fibers in the paper and gives it a smooth and glossy finish. But glossy papers are not as nice as they look. Kaolin contains the decay series of Uranium and Thorium, making this paper slightly radioactive! Bet you never thought that a glossy paper could be radioactive, huh?
This glossy paper is most suited for photographs, color or monochrome, because this paper does not absorb the ink. It lets it remain on the surface. Also, the amount of dispersion of ink is less in glossy paper, which means the ink will remain concentrated and not spread around like it does on a blotting paper, thus giving a far better effect than matte paper. There are following types of glossy paper:
Premium-grade Gloss Paper
This is the highest quality of glossy paper, and will give the best results when it comes to photographs. It is more expensive than normal glossy paper, but it is totally worth it for certain types of printing work.
Like the name indicates, semi-gloss paper is a little less glossy than the normal glossy paper, and cheaper too. This is the perfect paper if you want the photo to be of good quality without too much glare. The amount of glare in semi-gloss paper is much less than in premium-grade or normal glossy paper.
Metallic/ Super-glossy Paper
These papers are completely sealed off due to the coating applied on them. A special type of coating material is used to provide extremely high quality coating, closing off all the pores and making the porosity of these papers null. A special type of ink is required for printing on such highly coated papers.
Brand Specific Glossy Paper
This means, each brand will have its own specific type of glossy paper. The basic composition will not change. The only changes will be subtle differences in the finish, amount of gloss, thickness of the paper, etc.
Matte paper lacks the coating of clay provided to the glossy paper, leaving pores between the fibers of the paper, which is why it is lusterless. The effect of photographs printed on matte paper is dull. This type of paper is more porous, and due to increased capillary action as compared glossy paper, it absorbs the ink and makes it less concentrated than it looks on glossy paper.
While this paper is not very suitable for printing photos, it is the best choice if you want to use it for the purpose of printing pamphlets without pictures. Due to the total absence of glare, it is convenient to read the print on this paper, while it is cumbersome to do so on glossy paper. As with glossy paper, matte paper too, has the following three types:
Premium-grade Matte Paper
Premium-grade type matte paper is the best type of matte paper out there, providing the least dispersion of ink, giving great results for the printed word, and is generally preferred for use in printing books.
Semi-matte paper is wedged between the silk coated and the glossy paper, as far as reflection is concerned. It is less than the glossy paper, but more than the satin coated paper.
Photo-quality Matte Paper
Photo quality matte papers are almost as good as glossy paper, only without the glaze and shine. The color reproduction and detail are pretty high quality, and they are cheaper than glossy paper.
Double-sided Matte Paper
Double-sided matte papers have high opacity and are resistant to fading. They can be used for crafts, non-glare photos, portfolios, calendars, bookmarks, etc., since the same quality photos can be printed on both sides of the paper.
Gloss Laminated Paper
Gloss laminated papers are helpful in making the print look more vibrant. This kind of paper has a normal card-stock paper texture on one side, and a glossy texture on the other side. The photo is printed onto the glossy side, and then it is laminated to increase the quality and vibrancy of the image, as well as to make it shinier. This paper is usually used for postcards.
The separation of fibers, by either chemical or mechanical methods and processes, yields pulp. This type of paper does not have any gloss or luster. If photos are printed onto this paper, they appear smudged at the edges and look dull, since the color looks dead.
There is no vibrancy in the paper, and so it is better suited for purposes of printing business cards, and the like. Besides, pulp can be made from 100% recycled paper as well, making it eco-friendly! When paper pulp is woven instead of pressed, you get a stylized version of pulp paper, called Linen Paper, which can be used for fancy purposes like wedding, baby shower, bridal shower, housewarming party invitations, etc. As with pulp paper, the ink takes time to dry, so it should be allowed to sit for a while, after printing and before handling.
Special Coated Papers
These papers comes with an extra coating which is useful for either protecting the paper, or for the added gloss/ sheen. These coatings are eco-friendly, and improve the quality of print. There are basically three types of popular special coated papers, as listed below:
Silk Coated Paper
Silk coated paper has a sheen to it, and although it has less reflection than semi-matte paper, it is more reflective than matte paper.
Aqueous Coated Paper
Aqueous coated papers provide extra gloss, while being eco-friendly at the same time. It also provides a layer of protection to the paper.
UV Gloss Paper
This type of coating is helpful when you have to add extra gloss, deepen the colors, and increase the contrast of the photos printed on it. For this reason, UV gloss paper is generally used for magazine covers and the like.
Card Stock Papers
Card stock paper is usually thick, about the size of an index card. The weight of the card stock paper varies as per the brand. This paper is also available in many different colors, from the professional white and off-white shades, to more fun colors like red, green and blue. Card stock papers vary in weight, so not all of them are suitable for all types of printers. It is advisable to ask the person you are buying it from, whether it will be compatible with your printer.
Card stock paper is of two types: Hard Stock Paper, and Copy Paper. The hard stock paper is thicker than the copy paper, and is used for making tags, advertisements, and paper dividers. The copy paper is thinner than the hard stock paper, and is used for making fliers or documents. Copy stock paper does not have a finish to it, and is cheaper than hard stock paper.
Resume paper, as the name indicates, is a paper which is specially used to make resumes. These papers are made to look more professional than normal printing papers. Really high quality resume papers usually have a watermark on them. This watermark is not visible when the paper is kept flat, but is visible when the paper is held against light. It has a rich look, and makes your resume stand out amongst the others.
It is also slightly heavier than normal printing paper, and is available in different shades. For a suitably serious and professional looking resume, it is best to stick to sober and light shades like off-white, ivory, etc. Resume paper also gives you the option of experimenting with various textures, since it is available in textures like bamboo, linen, parchment, etc.
The latest in papers is Green Paper, which is manufactured without bleaching. Companies who want to promote their eco-friendly image and activities, use this paper for their advertisements and fliers.
While choosing the right printing paper, it is necessary to keep two more points in mind. These are the brightness and opacity of the paper. Brightness is measured from 1 to 100, 1 being the least bright and reflective, good for printing, while 100 is the brightest and most reflective, making it unsuitable for reading the print, but very good for printing photos. Opacity is measured from 0 to 100, with 0 being almost transparent, and 100 being totally opaque. As the opacity increases, the print that is seen through on the other side reduces. This makes it easier to print on both sides of the paper. There are also established standards for measuring the whiteness, opacity, weight, thickness, etc., which are ISO 2470, ISO 2471, TAPPI 452, ASTM D523, etc. Choosing the right type of printing paper can make a big difference between achieving a professional look or a sloppy job, so choose rightly.