A Guide to the Types of Paper Stock

Multiple columns of paper stacked neatly together

Investing in high-quality printers is important, but you also need to have the right kind of paper if you want to get the most out of your print operations! 

Not all designs work with all types of paper stock. Take photos as an example—they won’t turn out the same way on thin paper as they would on paper with a glossy surface. This is just one example of how misalignment between paper stock and the type of printing you’re doing can lead to wasted resources and untapped business potential. 

The good news is we’re here to help you choose the right printing paper among the various paper stock types available. In this article, we’ll cover everything from weight to brightness to help you make an informed choice. 

Ready? Let’s talk paper stock! 

Paper Weight and Thickness 

Do you recall seeing “lbs” or “grams per square meter” in the package descriptions when shopping for paper stock? These units denote the paper’s weight in American and International Metric Systems, respectively. A high number means heavy and thick paper.

Paper manufacturers categorize types of paper stock by dividing them based on their weight and labelling them as text and card stocks:

Description Recommended Uses
Text Stock – Lighter and thinner 
– Flexible and can be easily folded 
Card Stock or Cover Stock – Heavier and thicker
– More durable and rigid
– Similar texture to thin cardboard
  • Business cards 
  • Invitations 
  • Postcards 
  • Greeting cards

Before you buy text and card stock in bulk, check your printer’s specs to see its compatible paper thickness and weight. Using the wrong paper stock types reduces printer lifespan by causing jams, poor colour transferring, and damaged parts. 

Paper Finish: Coated vs. Uncoated 

When it comes to types of paper stock, you also have to consider the coating. There are two main types to choose from: coated paper and uncoated paper stock. However, there is also a third type known as “specialty” coatings that we will also discuss! 

Coated Paper Stock 

A coated stock uses hardened clay material as a surface covering to increase the display quality of text and images by sharpening details and making colours pop. 

There are three main types of coated paper finishes: 

  • Matte Stocks – Flat without any gloss or shine, best used for printing brochures with heavy text as it doesn’t reflect light and is easy to read. 
  • High Gloss – Shiny paper is perfect for printing photos, brochures, and large-format advertising materials because it makes everything pop.
  • Dull Coated – The middle ground between matte and glossy; it has a smooth surface with a low-gloss finish.

→ Read more: What Is Large Format Printing? 

A person pulls a finished photo sheet from the printer

Uncoated Paper Stock 

Uncoated stock doesn’t have any coating applications, making it duller and rougher when compared to its coated counterpart. Its non-glare surface makes it a perfect medium for printing reading materials like newsletters, flyers, and stationery. Uncoated papers also absorb ink quickly since nothing blocks their natural fibres. 

Specialty Paper Coatings 

Last but certainly not least are specialty coatings. These additional effects make prints more eye-catching due to their unique finishes: 

  • UV Coating – This UV-dried coating adds a brilliant shine to the surface. 
  • Soft Touch – Adds a velvety texture to business cards and other handheld prints. 
  • Varnish – Apply this clear coating to create a visual hierarchy within your materials that more effectively catches a customer’s attention. 

Paper Brightness 

Types of paper stock also vary in brightness and opacity, which are two things that affect the readability and presentation of your print materials. Paper manufacturers use a scale from 0 to 100 to measure how much the paper surface reflects blue light. 

Paper stocks with high ratings are an excellent choice for printing image-heavy materials since their surfaces make the colours look more vibrant. On the other hand, dark stocks form a more muted appearance suitable for mass-producing retail leaflets and flyers.

Meanwhile, paper opacity determines the paper’s transparency (how much print shows through from one side to the other). A paper with 100% opacity doesn’t display anything on its other side, while 0% opacity shows everything. 

When it comes to paper stock types, opacity can make or break your designs. This is especially true if you’re, for example, a high-volume corporation looking to save money by producing double-sided copies—watch out! 

→ Read more: Tips for Managing Print Costs in High-Volume Corporate Printing

A man and a woman holding large printouts and inspecting them excitedly

Invest in Great Printers that Support Your Paper Stock 

As you’ve learned, there are several types of paper stock out there all best suited for different uses and applications. However, no matter which you choose, a reliable printer suited to handle your paper stock and projects is an absolute must. 

Busys.ca is here to help! Whether you need a new printer for your business or help to choose the right paper stock types for the one you have, you can count on us for advice that improves print quality and efficiency. 

Request a quote today to get started!

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