Some advice on the choice of paper

Some advice on the choice of paper

When your book is ready to be printed one last step remains – the choice of paper. We should warn you that the decision only seems easy.

This could be surprising to some, but printing industry is influenced by fashion. In the past the preferred type was coated fine paper, which is the kind of paper whose surface is coated with a thin layer of mineral pigment and adhesive. The resulting surface is smooth and glossy. These days the coated fine paper is a bit passé. Customers are beginning to appreciate the raw beauty of offset paper. The gloss is being replaced by the fine texture of uncoated paper surface.

Whatever the current fashion, it is worth knowing which paper will bring out all the features of your published material. As Coco Chanel said, “Fashion changes, but style endures”. Don’t we want our products to be made in the best style possible?

Let’s start with books

The key is legibility. We wish our readers’ eyes to follow successive lines of text effortlessly. This is accomplished by a properly selected typeface and surface. Snow-white paper is not the best solution because there might be too much contrast between a very bright background and black letters. Prolonged reading could put too much strain on the eyes. On the other hand, what to do if the paper has to be bright because of illustrations? In this case it is the typeface that matters. Forget about thin fonts or those with too much contrast between thin and thick lines. Glossy art paper won’t make the readers happy, either. Its reflective surface will tire the eyes. So, the best option is to choose uncoated matte paper in an off-white colour.

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Other factors should be considered, too. The author of this text still remembers textbooks at school, printed on glossy coated paper. Even as a schoolgirl she thought it was ridiculous. Although the photos looked beautiful, this type of paper made any notes taken on the margins and text underlined with a pencil simply impossible to erase. If the textbook was used at school by an elder brother or sister before, you also got all the notes and answers. That is why we do not recommend using coated paper for notebooks, diaries, planners, calendars and anything you can expect users to make handwritten notes.

And what about cream-coloured or yellowish paper? These do not improve the quality of reading but if that is your artistic vision – why not? To be on the safe side, we recommend a test print first.
It is also important to make sure the selected paper is not see-through. Otherwise you will see the letters printed on both sides of the page. No need to explain how this affects legibility.

Photos and illustrations

White background enhances photographs and illustrations and perfectly brings out colours. As you know, there are four basic pigment colours used in printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black, or CMYK. No combination of these colours can produce white, so in all printed graphics this colour comes from the paper. Now, imagine you print on a cream-coloured paper: everything intended to be white in the picture (light, reflections, white and light objects) becomes cream-white. This would disturb the perception a little.

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When to use coated paper?

Coated fine paper and art paper are ideal for advertising brochures and catalogues where we want to emphasize the attractive appearance of products, make them look more distinguished and bring out vivid colours. Coated papers perfectly amplify the contrast in photos. Advertising materials are not the kind of literature we get engrossed in reading. They are to present products and services in an attractive way and to make the customer familiar with our offer. So, all they have to do is to be impressive and persuasive. Coated paper is the right choice for capturing all the nuances of photos; the colours are vivid and pleasing to the eye.

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When you are not sure about your choice…

You can always consult it with our customer assistants. You do not have to remember what kinds of paper we offer. Thanks to many years of experience, our account managers are the right specialists to ask.

lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at She writes because she enjoys it, but only when she isn’t busy drawing. Enthusiast of vintage furniture, she restores them to their original glory. Lover of cats, moths and the Moomins.

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