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How Coated and Uncoated Paper Stocks Affect Printed Colours

2nd October 2009


Coated and uncoated paper stocks are easily distinguished by their appearance. A coated paper has a shimmer to its surfaces and will feel smooth and waxy to the touch, whereas uncoated papers appear matt and will feel rougher or grainier to the touch. Deciding which type and finish of paper to use for a print job is very important and can drastically affect the way a printed ink appears.

Many companies have a logo, a style and therefore a company brand and it may be set out in a companies brand guidelines that only a particular Pantone pms ink reference may be use for their printed collateral. A customer might order a letterhead, a business card and a company brochure using different types of papers for each. When the printed items are complete they may all appear to have been printed using different colours, however this is not necessarily the case.

In very crude terms, if you think of coated papers as being like a pane of glass and uncoated papers as being like a sponge, when ink is printed onto each the appearance varies greatly. Printed coated papers will appear bright and colourful almost as though the inks were sitting on the surface whereas printed uncoated papers will appear duller and less vibrant where the inks have soaked into the paper’s fibres. Despite the big difference in the appearance of the colour it is the exact same ink that would have been used to print both.

It is for this reason that paper stocks should be considered for every need carefully. We have Pantone pms reference chips in the studio to show you the effect of your brand colour on both coated and uncoated papers and are more than happy to advise what is best suited to every project.