Print Press

Paper Facts

The success of any printing project begins with paper. While color and design play an integral role in the overall look, nothing is more important than paper selection. Knowing what papers are available and how they will feel and perform prior to beginning the process will help you create successful printed. Here are some factors to consider when specifying paper for your next print project.

Factors to consider when specifying paper Finish - Finish refers to how a paper feels. Is it smooth like a gloss cover or rough like a vellum uncoated cover? Will the surface be highly reflective or absorb light for easy reading? Does the paper absorb ink or have a good ink holdout to enhance photographic reproduction?

Paper finishes by paper type

  • BOND - Smooth, Cockle, Wove Laser or imaging finish, Laid, Linen
  • OFFSET (UNCOATED) - Smooth, Vellum
  • OFFSET (COATED) - Matte, Dull (silk or satin), Gloss, Cast Coated
  • TEXT and TEXT COVER - Felt, Laid, Linen


All types of paper are graded. Offset papers may range from the highest grade of “Premium” to the lowest grade of “5”. Generally, the higher the grade is, the higher the level of whiteness and brightness of the stock will be. As your need for quality reproduction rises, so too should your choice of paper grade.


Paper is composed of fibers. Grain refers to the direction of the fibers in the sheet. Grain is an important factor for both the press and finishing, especially as the weight of the stock increases. Ideally, the papers grain will be parallel to the direction of final fold. This minimizes cracking on the fold. Scoring distresses the fibers before they are folded and also minimizes cracking in the final product.


This is the measurement percentage of the amount of light that passes through a sheet of paper. The higher a paper’s opacity is, the less chance you will have of seeing what is printed on the second side. This factor is extremely important when choosing a stock for a book, publication or newsletter. Papers with a higher amount of fibers/fillers will have a greater opacity than those composed of a higher amount of coating. Just because a sheet is thicker doesn’t necessarily mean it is more opaque.

Ink Holdout

When ink comes in contact with a paper surface, it is absorbed. That absorption is called dot gain. The ink “spreads” when laid on the sheet. If you want to retain crisp, sharp color photograhic reproduction, choose a surface with good ink holdout such as gloss offset and cover. That is not to say that printing on text or uncoated papers will not look good. You just need to plan for more dot gain and compensate for that in your image densities. Shadows and midtones will appear much darker when using an uncoated sheet.