Paper Types Explained

18 June, 2018


There is a multitude of different paper types to choose from so how do you know that you are selecting the correct one for your job? Here we look at the most general types of paper, silk, gloss and uncoated, and explore the benefits of each.


Pallet of paper



The clue is in the title. A gloss paper will have a shiny coating and was the paper of choice for most magazines and brochures for a long period. Today it is not so popular. Many people believe that the deluge of glossy ‘junk mail’ a few years ago led to negative connotations for gloss paper. Fashion may once again bring gloss paper back to the forefront.

Gloss papers give excellent colour reproduction and helps to lift high-quality colour images. The inevitable shine can make text-only items difficult to read when produced on gloss papers and when writing on a gloss sheet can be problematic (a ball-point pen will work, but many other types of pen won’t).



Silk papers are coated stocks too. Now the paper type of choice on the majority of litho and digitally printed jobs, silk papers give a high-quality colour reproduction without the shine of a gloss. The text is also considered easier to read than on gloss due to the lack of shine.

These papers are easier to write on than gloss sheets, although they are not always ideal for writing on using pens other than ball-point.



Again the clue is the name. Uncoated paper gives a slightly more tactile nature as there is no protective coating. With uncoated paper, you are actually touching the paper fibres which does have a good effect if that is what you are looking for.

When gloss was at the height of its powers uncoated paper was considered old-fashioned and boring. However, they are a popular choice, partly because of the tactile element of the products produced on these papers.

Uncoated papers are ideal for writing on regardless of the pen or pencil used. They are also excellent for use in desktop printers and so is the usual choice for office stationery.


Silk, Gloss and Uncoated Paper
Uncoated, gloss and silk paper in order of top to bottom.


Some further paper confusion explained…

What are ‘art’ papers?

We often get asked for gloss art paper. At it’s most basic an art paper is any paper with a coating, although they do often get used when referring to gloss. In printing terms, art papers are not designed for you to use to create art (i.e. draw or paint on) but derive their name from that fact that they help produce wonderful image reproduction. This is because the coating helps reflect light, making the image lift from the page


What is the difference between silk and matt paper?

It really doesn’t matter – they’re the same. Most printers and paper manufacturers use the phrase silk, but matt is occasionally used to describe the same paper. Matt came into use as it is the opposite of gloss. Here at H&H Reeds Printers, we use the phrase silk. So if you ask for a quote on matt paper, don’t be surprised when it comes back saying silk on the quote.


So what is ‘bond’ paper?

Another silk/matt situation! Bond simply means uncoated.


Still in doubt?

We are always happy to supply a sample of papers for you to see and feel so just ask and we will organise this for you.

Feel free to contact us here.