Understanding Paper

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the number of choices available when selecting paper, and the terminology printers use can be confusing. Read on for an overview of what we offer at Superstore Printing and learn what you need to know to make the right choices. While it would be great if manufacturers expressed the qualities of their stock in a uniform way, unfortunately there are a number of ways to say the same thing when it comes to describing paper. We will try to demystify this a bit for you.

Industrial Paper Roll
An industrial paper roll.

Paper weight is measured in pounds (often abbreviated as #). This is defined as the basis weight of a 500-sheet ream at its basic size. Simply put, 500 sheets of 24# weighs 24 pounds. The “basic size” varies by manufacturer and application, so these numbers are not the whole picture.

Thickness is measured in points, or caliper points. It refers to the thickness of an individual sheet measured with a micrometer (such as 14pt or 16pt). When a paper is described with a point designation, it is typically a more rigid board grade.

Cover vs. Text
As the names imply, cover stock is heavier, more rigid, and less easily folded than text stock. Cover is used for, you guessed it, covers (or anything needing a more rigid paper, such as business cards, folders or postcards). Both types come in coated and uncoated finishes.

Coated Stock
Coated refers to a finish applied either by the manufacturer prior to printing, or by the printer after your piece is printed. Paper comes in gloss, matte, and silk (sometimes called satin) finishes. A coated finish can give your printed piece a more finished, polished look. If you need to write on your project, though, stay away from gloss coating. UV Coating and Aqueous Coating are applied after your project is printed. UV is a very protective, very shiny coating. It can make details really pop, and helps your art resist scratches. Aqueous is a clear, water-based coating that provides a medium-gloss surface that will deter fingerprints, dirt and scuff marks. Two terms that you will see when browsing coated stock are C1S and C2S. C1S refers to cover stock that is coated on one side and dull on the other. It is typically used for projects where you would want the art to be bright on one side, and have a writing surface on the other, such as a greeting card. C2S is cover stock that is coated on both sides. It is typically used on items that will not be written on.

Uncoated Stock
Uncoated stock has an untreated surface that doesn’t shine or reflect light. It is typically used for letterhead, envelopes, and other things that will be written on. It takes light colored ink best, and doesn’t always handle heavy ink coverage well due to bleeding. High-quality uncoated stock is sometimes used to give projects a more tactile, earthy feel. The image below illustrates how coated paper and uncoated paper absorb ink differently. The color swatch on the left of each pair is printed on coated paper, and the right swatch is the same ink on uncoated paper.

Coated vs. Uncoated

Gloss Finish
Gloss finish has a shiny surface, similar to a photograph. Full-color images appear more vibrant and really shine off a gloss finish. It can protect your project from fading and moisture. It can be difficult to read text off a glossy page due to the shine, however.

Matte Finish
Matte is a smooth finish that gives colors a softer appearance than gloss. It is somewhat more muted and can give your project a more artistic or conservative feel. Text is more easily read with a matte finish, and fingerprints are resisted.

Our Papers
The following are Superstore Printing house stock.

12pt Gloss C2S
Gloss stock coated on two sides. This is used for short-run color, such as an order of business cards.

14pt Matte C2S
Coated stock of a slightly heavier weight with a matte finish. This is used for print marketing, such as presentation folders, and business cards.

14pt Gloss C1S
Stock that is coated on one side with a gloss finish. This is used when you want to write on one side of your piece, but desire a gloss finish on the other side, such as with a business card or postcard. 

14pt Gloss C2S
This cover weight paper has a gloss finish on both sides. It is used for print marketing, such as presentation folders, business cards and postcards.

14pt Uncoated
An uncoated cover weight paper with a smooth feel. The flat surface takes lighter ink best and it is primarily used for print marketing materials such as business cards and presentation folders.

16pt Gloss C2S
Heavy weight gloss stock used for business cards.

100# Gloss Text
Standard glossy paper stock. The gloss finish is perfect for full-color printing, allowing colors to really shine. This stock is most often used for flyers, posters, brochures, etc.

100# Gloss Cover
This stiff standard gloss cover stock is commonly used for items like folders, heavyweight brochures, catalog covers, etc. It is approximately equivalent to a 10pt cover stock.

100# Matte Text
Similar in weight to our gloss text, the difference here is finish. Matte finish provides an opaque base for easy-to-read typography. It is commonly used in brochures, newsletters, flyers, inserts, etc. 

100# Matte Cover
Similar in weight to 100# gloss cover with a different finish. This stock is primarily used for presentation folders and heavier weight brochures.

70# Uncoated Smooth Text
Smooth, uncoated text weight paper that is commonly used for flyers, brochures and other print marketing materials.

24# Uncoated
Multipurpose paper like you’d find in your office printer or copy machine. Commonly used for stationery.