The Difference Between Uncoated, Gloss, and Matte Paper Finishing

Two people writing on a uncoated flyer

Last updated on June 21st, 2024 at 10:50 am

Originally published July 5, 2019 7:03 pm

Choosing a paper type for your print project is a vital step in creating successful print marketing. The paper finish can invoke feelings and assist in the storytelling of your product. But let’s start by understanding the difference between the three main paper finishings that you’ll find at your print shop.

The most important thing to know is that the difference between uncoated, matte, and gloss is primarily the amount of coating that is applied to the paper. The chart below gives you an idea of roughly how much coating is applied to each paper type.

paper finishing coating chart

The following picture was taken with all 4 paper coatings to get an idea of what the differences are between coated paper vs uncoated paper. The descriptions below will help explain the differences that might not be noticeably apparent in the photograph. But to put it simply, the more coating added during production creates a more reflective surface.

Uncoated vs Matte vs Gloss paper difference between matte and uncoated paper

Uncoated Paper

Uncoated paper is exactly what it sounds like – paper that has no extra coating or paper finishing. Since there is no coating, there is no glare on the surface. This makes it ideal for prints that have a lot of text or reading materials. Since there is no coating, this is the most porous paper, which is the best for smudge-less writing with the widest range of pens and pencils when compared to the other finishes. All bond stock paper is uncoated. Color copies, black and white copies, and flyer printing typically use uncoated paper for the low cost.

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Matte Coated Paper

Matte paper has a light coating that provides a boost to the contrast to images, but results in little glare. In the picture above, that the matte coating did not provide much glare when the photo was taken. The matte coating provides a smoother presentation than an uncoated sheet, and softer than the appearance of a glossy sheet. Matte sheets are good for enhancing visual designs with a more subdued layout and color set without having a lot of glare which glossy coatings suffer from. Pen ink will not smear on matte coating, which makes it the ideal choice for journals and calendars.

Coated paper vs uncoated paper, Matte and gloss paper are coated sheets compared next to each other.
Gloss (left) has a heavier coating so it appears smoother and shinier than matte coated paper (right).

Gloss Coated Paper

Gloss coated paper provides a lot of shine, which results in a higher contrast and color gamut than other papers. This coating is good for full color images where the color needs to “pop”. This coating gives a very nice finish and professional look for marketing materials or any other kinds of prints that want to show off the color. Book printing is the most common materials that use gloss paper, usually 60lb or 80lb for magazine paper.

UV Gloss Coating

UV Gloss coating is our premium coating that makes pictures really stand out. It really enhances color contrast and makes those vibrant colors pop out, more so than regular gloss. As you can see from the picture above, our UV coating provides a much greater shine than our gloss papers.

Unlike the other options, UV Gloss is not a paper type. Instead it is an additional coating that is added to a gloss or matte paper type after printing. UV gloss cannot be added to Text paper types. So if you need the additional glossy coater on your prints, choose a Cover stock paper type. Add UV Gloss to the covers your print magazine and catalog printing for a more professional look and feel.

Contact Printivity at 1-877-649-5463 and ask for a complimentary paper sample. We offer a wide variety of paper, products, and services to help you market your business.


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