Paper Types and Attributes


Paper comes in different thicknesses. Generally, thicker stocks are called cover weight (aka cardstock) and thinner stocks are called text weight. The weight, or thickness, of stock determines the name of the stock.

Common Paper Weights:

Book Text: 20#, 24#, 60# text weight

Invitations: 80#, 100# cover weight

Business Cards: 110# cover weight

Letterhead: Uncoated paper of various text weight

Paper Grain

Paper contains fibers. The direction of the fibers run is the grain of the paper. Paper grain is identified as short or long grain depending on whether the grain runs parallel to the long edge or the short edge of the paper. Grain is important to note when paper must be folded. A cleaner fold will run with the grain, whereas folding the paper against the grain tends to make the fold look curved or jagged and can also make ink flake off the paper. Grain can also affect the way paper lays in a book and how thick the stock can feel.

Coated Papers

Coated paper is coated with a surface sealant on it in order to add qualities to the paper. Uncoated paper, which has no such coating is more porous/absorbent. Uncoated paper is often called "bond" paper/stock. Paper coatings allow cleaner and crisper printing due to the reduction of dot gain, which means that the ink dots stay on the surface of the stock better and therefore look brighter and crisper. Some common coatings are gloss, matte, satin, and dull.


Gloss is a type of coated paper that has a shinier finish than other stocks. Gloss papers have less bulk and opacity and typically come at lower prices compared to other coated paper of equal thickness. Printing on gloss paper produces excellent color sharpness.


Matte coated paper is a non-glossy paper with a flat appearance and very little sheen. Matte papers are fairly opaque, are more expensive, and contain more bulk than gloss papers. Matte papers are similar to gloss in that the paper aborbs little ink resulting in vibrant colors.


Satin coated paper lies somewhere between gloss and matte. Satin is semi-opaque and colors print sharp and vivid.

Uncoated Papers

Uncoated is, as its name suggests, an uncoated paper. It absorbs ink and therefore may not appear as bright as other stocks. There are many ranges of textures available.

Wove/Smooth Paper

Wove paper is a smooth surfaced paper that has no specifically manufactured texture.

Laid Paper

Laid paper is produced with textured lines, called "ribs" or "chain lines", on the surface. This type of unfinished paper is commonly used for business applications like letterhead or business stationary.

Linen Paper

Linen paper features textured lines that look like fabric with a fine cross-hatch pattern across the surface.

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