Part 1 of Choosing the Right Paper for Your Print Job

Choosing the correct paper for a printing project is a difficult task. You have a lot of possibilities. All aspects of a print job are influenced by paper, including overall perception, reproduction quality, durability, and postage costs. If you make a poor decision, you risk ruining an otherwise fantastic endeavour.

To be particular, you must evaluate a variety of factors. First, the paper’s surface, which has an impact on its appearance, feel, and printability. It matters because the look of the paper has an impact on people; it’s as simple as that.

In Litho printing, two types of paper are commonly used:

  1. It is uncoated
  2. It’s been coated

Depending on the brand name and the mill or merchant you are dealing with, each of these types of paper can come in a variety of sheet sizes, colours, and grammages. Most, if not all, of the big paper retailers will have links with a reliable printer.

Both forms of paper have subtypes that refer to the procedures that go into making the paper, and as a general rule, the more intricate the process, the better the paper and generally the more expensive it is.

The information provided here is by no means complete, but it is intended to provide you with a better understanding of the many types of paper available for your usage.

Subtypes that are not covered

Calandered or Super Calandered – A method of imparting a finish or smoothness to paper using rollers during the manufacturing process. It thins down the material while increasing its density. Smoothing and polishing of papers is carried out between stacks of highly polished steam heated rollers, either as part of the paper machine (calendered/machine calendered) or as an off-machine operation (supercalendered). Friction glazed papers are made by arranging calender rolls on a supercalender in such a way that they cause friction as well as pressing.

Uncoated paper is what you’d typically find in a copier or printer at work. Letterheads and compliments slips are printed on higher-quality uncoated paper.

Subtypes with a coating Coated paper has a coating on one or both sides. Single, double, or triple coatings are available for paper. The higher the number of layers of coating, the higher the quality. Gloss, silk, or matte finishes are available.

Flyers, catalogues, brochures, and magazines are commonly printed on these sheets.

The interaction of the print with various types of paper

Aside from the tactile sensation of various types of paper, the way printer ink interacts with the paper is another something to think about while planning your next print job. Your print adviser should be able to show you printed samples of the various types of paper to show how they interact with the ink when printed. I’ve tried to offer a very basic and simplified description of what to expect from ink contact on the various types of paper covered previously in this text.

Ordinary calendared paper absorbs ink if it is not coated. This implies that because the printed image is embedded in the paper, the printer will need to use more ink to attain the same picture quality as a coated sheet. Uncoated paper communicates a statement about being environmentally responsible as well as cost conscious. When printing fundraising brochures or reports to supporters, organisations frequently utilise this type of paper. A significant disadvantage of utilising this type of paper is that, due to the volume of ink required to generate a nice picture, it might take longer than usual to dry enough before being transformed from a flat sheet to the completed result, making it unsuitable for fast turnaround work.

Uncoated Super calendared paper has many of the same characteristics as regular uncoated paper, with a few key differences. To begin with, this material is more expensive than coated materials, and it will be significantly more expensive than plain uncoated paper. While it still consumes more ink than coated paper, the printed image seems to sit more on the paper than in due to the glaze applied to the sheet during the production process. Again, it takes longer for this paper to cure before it can be handled for finishing. Because it is viewed as being both pricey and ecologically sensitive, this paper is widely used in business reports and exclusive product catalogues.

Matt or Silk papers are coated papers with a porous layer that allows ink to seep into them. The outcome is a picture that lies on the paper yet is flat and non-reflective in appearance. This paper is commonly used in product brochures, catalogues, and reports that wish to communicate a sense of understated quality and exclusivity due to its finish. When printing on Matt or Silk papers, it is recommended that a sealer varnish be used to guarantee that the image does not rub or mark when handled throughout the finishing process.

Gloss coated paper generates a bright, colourful, and lustrous printed picture that appears to sit on the paper. It is the easiest medium to print with from a production standpoint since it dries faster than the other types of materials described before. It is also less expensive to use than matt or silk paper since it does not require the application of a sealer varnish.

The Environment and Paper

Let’s be honest, printing isn’t a clean industry in the great scheme of things. We chop down a tree, pulp it with water from a nearby river, add a few minerals we scraped up from the earth, and produce paper in its most basic form. We export the paper to printers all around the globe, who then coat it with vegetable oil and colours before shipping it to people all over the world to read. It’s then either dumped in the ground, burned, or, if you’re lucky, recycled.

I purposefully simplified it because, until a few years ago, that was exactly what was going on, but without the recycling and also without the social and corporate responsibilities that we now have in the print sector. In reality, until recently, relatively few printers utilised vegetable-based inks, and some still do now.

From a paper standpoint, the first change was that the trees harvested began to originate from ‘Sustainable Forests,’ meaning that the mills began to plant more trees than they harvested. The bulk of the paper used in the UK now comes from sustainable forest sources.

As the world became more aware of environmental challenges, environmental accrediting schemes such as ISO14001 and EMAS arose.

EMAS (Environmental Management and Audit Scheme) is a scheme for environmental management and auditing.

Environmental surveys are conducted, an environmental policy is developed, an environmental management system (for example, ISO 14001) is implemented, environmental audits are performed, and the findings are published in an ecological annual report by an EMAS-accredited firm. An impartial assessor keeps track of these accounts.

ISO 14001 is an international standard that is optional.

It provides a framework and instruments for company management to take a systematic approach to environmental management. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in Switzerland established this certification standard.

Around the same time, the FSC and the PEFC were founded to help customers determine which items they were buying or consuming came from ecologically friendly sources.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit organisation that promotes environmental stewardship.

Environmentalists, industry, foresters, and indigenous and social organisations have formed a coalition. These organisations have come up with a set of principles and guidelines to describe what constitutes good forest management. The FSC mark indicates that a product is made of wood that has been independently certified as being from well-managed forests.

The PEFC Council is a non-profit organisation dedicated to environmental protection (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes)

Is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that supports sustainably managed forests through independent third-party certification. It was created in 1999. The PEFC is a certification programme that assures buyers of wood and paper goods that they are supporting forest sustainability.

As demand grows, so does supply, and the pricing differential between approved and non-accredited paper is narrowing. It’s not difficult to envision a period where all paper is FSC or PEFC certified.

Any printer can provide you either FSC or PEFC paper, both of which are manufactured by ISO14001 and EMAS certified factories. However, you may only use the respective logos from these two organisations on your printed materials if you utilise FSC and PEFC approved printers. Consumers know these emblems for their environmental credentials, and your organisation is perceived to be environmentally conscientious as a result.

ISO14001 and FSC, PEFC accreditation are required for a respectable and high-quality printing company. This is your assurance that your print was made in an ecologically responsible manner.