What is the Difference Between Matte and Glossy Paper?

Matte and gloss paper are coated sheets that appear smooth. Gloss (left) appears smoother and shinier than matte (right).v

When you order printing, the difference between matte and glossy paper is “shininess” of the paper. This difference is most apparent when you flip the sheets of paper under the light.

This article looks into the differences between the two paper types to help you make your paper choices when printing. We’ll help you understand the physical differences (by explaining the manufacturing), and how to choose the best paper based on the files you have to print.

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The differences in manufacturing matte and glossy paper

The two paper types look and feel different to the touch, but they’re actually manufactured in a very similar manner. Believe it or not, matte paper uses the same chemical coating as gloss paper.

Gloss paper has more coating applied than matte paper.  Matte paper has a semi-gloss finish, produces high quality prints, but lacks the vibrant effects of gloss paper. Matte paper produces no glare and is resistant to smudging and imprints left by fingerprints.

Fun fact: gloss paper is very slightly thinner than matte paper, even though they’re the same weight. For example: if you print booklets on matte and glossy paper, they’ll weigh the same amount on the scale. However, the glossy booklets are denser, and ever-so-slightly thinner.

Factors when choosing between matte and glossy paper for printing

The biggest factor when you choose between matte and glossy paper is the kinds of content that you’re printing. How many photographs, graphic designs/illustrations, and articles of text do you have in your prints?

Matte and gloss paper are coated sheets that appear smooth. Gloss (left) appears smoother and shinier than matte (right).v
Matte and gloss paper are coated sheets that appear smooth. Gloss (left) appears smoother and shinier than matte (right).

Glossy photo paper is shinier—this makes the color in your images “pop” on the sheet. The extra shine works well on print files with heavy color coverage, especially photographs and big graphics. This effect also makes the color on the photo prints look like they have higher contrast.

Matte paper has a more muted feel to it. This can be used to great effect in designs with a light or pastel color scheme, and in designs with a great deal of text on it. Because matte paper changes less under the light, they also have more of a “flat” feel than gloss sheets. If the final product is intended to be written on with a ballpoint pen, then matte is the recommended paper type.

Pro Tip: Spiral binding and wire o bound book printing are the ideal binding type if your booklet will be written in. The flexible binding will not break when your arm is resting on the book, which is possible with perfect bound book printing.

Final thoughts

Don’t stress! In the end, you can’t really choose the wrong paper for printing. You’re not going to end up in a situation where you regret the choice of the paper. Both paper types carry color very well, and it ends up coming down to subtle preference and nuance.

Call the customer service representatives at Printivity at 1-877-649-5463 and ask for a complimentary paper sample!


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