Print Industry Nitty-Gritty (Part 2): What Do You Know About Paper?

All Rights Reserved | Byway Creative | 2016

Paper Characteristics

Paper Weight | There are two main weights of paper:

  1. Text Weight — thinner lightweight paper.
  • Other types and names of text weight paper include writing, book, bond, ledger, newsprint, and offset.
  • Common uses include standard copy paper, brochures, flyers, posters, and more.

2. Cover stock — a thicker card stock paper.

  • Other types and names of cover stock include bristol, index, and tag.
  • Common uses include business cards, postcards, menus, book covers tags, and more.

NOTE: in most cases a higher weight (#), (lb) or (pt) paper will also be heavier, thicker and typically more expensive. The chart below is a helpful scale for understanding some of the basic variations.

Paper Weight Comparison

Paper Style | There are 3 main styles of paper:

  1. Coated — Paper that has gone through a clay coating process.
  • Available in a variety of finishes such as matte, dull, gloss, etc.
  • Is often unable to be recycled.
  • Can be difficult to write on.
  • Available as text weight and cover stock.
  • Ink and toner is crisp and sharp.

2. Uncoated — Any paper that does not have a clay coating.

  • Offset papers, and standard copy papers AKA bond, or writing papers, are the most common type of uncoated paper, however just like coated paper there is variety.
  • Available as text weight and cover stock.
  • Best for writing on-forms, notes, etc.
  • Ink and toner is softer and absorbs into the paper.

NOTE: Not all matte paper is uncoated paper, and not all shiny paper has had any coating applied on it.

3. Specialty Papers — Paper that is suitable for special purposes. They possesses unique characteristics and properties, and are not considered to be one of the standards by the print or paper industry. They may have an embossed texture, special coating, translucence or certain color.

  • Some specialty papers (especially textured papers) cannot be run digitally. The price for printing will likely increase if the paper has to be run on an offset press, but this will all depend on your printers capabilities.

Paper Color & Texture | An Endless Amount of Possibilities

Once paper is decided, you should always remember that the effect of the colors printed on the stock will be different. Use caution, always request a printed proof, and talk with your printer about possible outcomes. They usually know what may and may not work with your design. There are thousands of options available. I have provided just a few basic types below.

Whites — Bet you didn’t know that many brands of paper offer several different shades of white. It is sometimes hard to see the differences individually, but when you get them all together there are noticeable tints of other colors present.


Brights & Pastels — If you are on a tight budget and need something that screams your message, hot colors or pastels work great with just black or a one to two color design. Full color is not recommended.


Color Textures — Paper color can also resemble a texture, but still feel smooth to the touch. For example; these fiber and parchment inspired paper papers have tiny dark speckles and marble swirl mixed with solid colors to give the paper a vintage textured look.


Linen — A popular type of embossed textured paper that resembles textile linens.

Linen Texture

Laid — Another type of embossed textured paper with a linear pattern. The laid texture imitates some handmade papers.

Laid Texture

Felt — Felt paper is embossed with a broad crater-like impression. Felt is a popular choice for fine art prints.

Felt Texture

Metallics — I tend to save the best for last, and am a sucker for anything shiny or glittery. Metallic and pearl paper is one of my favorites to use for events like wedding invitations.


Finally, if you want to become more familiar with paper and other aspects of the print industry, your local print shop or paper supply company should be more than happy to take a little time to show you sample books, and keep you up to date on what brands and types of paper they keep in stock. Keep in mind that if you request something specific, it may take the print shop a few business days to order and receive what you need. It never hurts to ask and plan in advance!

All Rights Reserved | Byway Creative | 2016

Remarks — Feel Like Chatting?

What is your go-to paper? Do you find yourself favoring one type or brand over another? Are you more likely to explore paper options for your next project after reading this post? What questions do you have?

By and By

Thank you so much for reading. Please visit again for more thoughts and adventures that will include topics on art, nature, travel, and more. Check out my work at the Byway Creative Website and follow me on social media:

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