Tom Kubinski
Printing Consultant
Direct: 612-278-1568
Fax: 612-334-5879
Cell: 612-760-3700
1109 Zane Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN. 55422
Phone: 612-375-1150
Fax: 612-334-5879
Toll Free: 1-800-230-2828

Branding - 22 Laws Of
Brand Warfare
Creative Coatings Techniques
Desktop Techniques
Digital / Variable Printing
Direct Mail Raise Response, Lower Costs
FSC Certification
For Direct Marketers
In House Mailing Capabilities
Ink Tour
Paper Mill Tour - Coated
Paper Mill Tour - Uncoated
Picking the Right Paper
PDF Formats
PDF Info & Quark vs. InDesign
PODi - Digital Print Success Story
Postal Increases & Requirement Changes
Post it to the Web vs. Print
PURL - Avoid Dog House Campaign
QR Codes
Save Disk Space
Social Media -- The Basics
Social Media vs. Print
Top File Issues
UV Burn
Ways to Save Money
What Sets Sexton Apart?
Why Print in a Down Market?
Why Work With TK?

November 2010 TK's Korner
Picking the Right Paper

It can be very confusing to choose a paper with the introduction of
foreign versus domestic sheets

*Just what are you getting or giving up?
*What differences are there between them?
*How about between Coated/Uncoated, Gloss/Dull/Matte/Velvet/Silk, Premium?
*As well as #1/#2/#3?
*How do you choose the right paper for each different subject and / or print project?
*What effect will one paper have versus another for the library of materials that you are trying to create?

All great questions!
This issue will help you decide which paper to choose for your next project

Remember, there are quite a few good tools available for your library that will help guide you through the hard decisions. Each paper house puts out their own helpful guides that explain their papers specifics;

ie. Product name, Grade, Finish, Shade, Brightness, Opacity, etc. (More about that later...)

Sexton Printing has sponsored an excellent seminar entitled, "Taking the Mystery Out of Paper
." In addition, I also host an annual paper mill tour that really enlightens even the veteran print buyers and designers.

As you read on, I will give you additional information that will answer many of your questions. Keep in mind that each project is different and may require a new twist to your final decision. And, of course there are always 2 main ingredients in printing to understand - Paper AND Ink. Then, we will be able to make better informed decisions and obtain the desired results for our clients as well as our target audience. Please see the Ink Tour issue for more info.

FIRST, let's address Foreign vs. Domestic sheets -
At home
we have all kinds of stringent requirements and quality standards that our papers must meet. OSHA also plays a big role in what each Mill must do in order to make paper.

The foreign mills
don't have all these same rulings, which makes them much cheaper in most cases. This has put enormous pressure on our domestic sheets to lower costs any way possible. This could be the reason for some of the quality differences you may be noticing, as well as some mills closing or eliminating certain lines.

Pros:Usually the brightness is very high, very smooth and the price can be up to 1/3 cheaper
Cons:What may be called a certain sheet (#2 for example) doesn't necessarily mean that they are the same brightness/opacity of what we have deemed it to be. Content difference (50% less wood fiber-droops more), Less opacity, Folding concerns, Fading color over time, Heavy ink coverage may cause curling, Consistency of availability.

At the Sexton Printing seminar, "Taking the Mystery Out of Paper," we handed out the following tools/guides and information:

  1. Opacity Guide (24k .pdf) Weight of the stock and percentage of ink coverage can be very important.
  2. Paper Equivalent Weight Guide (271k .pdf) Each stock can be different even if it is labeled the same weight.
  3. Approximate Paper Calipers Guide (275k .pdf) Mailing requirements for postal savings makes this important
  4. Three tests for grain direction and when important.
    . Tear, fold, add water (how it dries or curls shows direction). Usually important for print runs and finishing mailing procedures.

A quick description of Brightness & Opacity:

BRIGHTNESS is a papers ability to reflect light. Usually measured on a scale 0-100. (See each papers guide for what you are choosing.)

OPACITY is the papers ability to obstruct light. Usually referred to as "show through" also measured on a scale of 1-100. The higher the number the more opaque or less show through. (See your opacity guidelines for each paper.)

NOW, let's move into How Paper is Made and each type's specifics. All coated paper is made from wood fiber, yet all is not created equal. The precise blend of fibers from hardwoods and softwoods make the pulp for high quality coated papers.

High Opacity is essential to a fine-coated printing paper. This comes from the addition of special and expensive pigments (called opacifiers), to the pulp before it enters the paper machine. These fillers even out the areas of low opacity by filling in the voids between fibers in the base stock. This in turn increases the number of reflective surfaces that gives you a sheet with even brightness, uniform strength, high opacity and an astonishingly smooth surface. In addition, it is these areas of low opacity that undermine the readability and print contrast of the sheet.

Uncoated Base Stock has what is called an "open surface" whose porosity (a measurement that refers to the ease with which air passes through paper) is ready-made for soaking up liquids. The most noticeable negative is that colors wash out and details lose their sharpness. In general, uncoated paper is highly porous and is why it's often used for "soft" reproductions, such as watercolors, illustrations and copy.

Coatings are precisely formulated mixtures of calcium carbonate and clay suspended in a binder. Its job is to create a smooth, uniform surface across the sheet so light will reflect evenly and ink films will be uniform. It must be tight enough to hold ink out on the surface and just porous enough to allow ink to bind tightly to the surface of the sheet.

Ink Hold Out is when the ink delivers the intense color, crisp detail, precise lines, and sharp halftone dots at full intensity while still able to set up on the surface of the paper.

Typically, Gloss Finishes have the highest retained ink gloss, followed respectively by velvet, silk and matte finishes. The process of calendaring is the sheet and coating being polished to the desired effect. It is much like when you apply shoe polish - if you were to touch or scuff it, a shiny area would appear. Once the whole shoe had been polished, you would end up with a high gloss. The amount of production steps that your project goes through, whether or not you apply a varnish/aqueous, etc. will dictate your finished piece.

Smoothness plays a key factor in print quality and light reflection. The smoother the sheet is, the better the reflection.


Reflection or how light bounces off the surface back to your eye is dependent on the type of surface you have. A coated/smooth paper reflects light evenly in the same direction and enhances crisp reproduction. Uncoated paper such as non-gloss, mattes, etc. diffuse the light by scattering the rays in different directions. Typically, gloss has the best reflection, brighter color and snap with clear detail, followed by velvet, silk and matte. etc. diffuses the light by scattering the rays in different directions.

With all this being said, what does it mean for you?

NEXT, follow along below for More Helpful Information...

Gloss is a shiny surface created by super calendaring coating pigments so they reflect light off the surface in the same direction. The result is high reflectance for subjects that require strong ink gloss retention, such as the gleam of paint on a car, the sparkle of glassware or the shine of chrome.

*Technical-Incredibly precise halftone dot and small pigments aligned for uniform light reflectance and excellent clarity.
*Aesthetic-Shiny and polished, powerful, slick to the touch.
*Performance-Smooth, even reflectance, unsurpassed resilience and retained ink gloss, scuff resistant, (although higher potential for fingerprinting).
>>> Suggested Uses -Hard, shiny surfaces, including glass, metal and plastics, highly detailed subjects

Velvet is a lightly calendared surface that offers low to moderate paper gloss. Coating pigments and binders are combined to create a surface that scatters light. The velvet surface is best for printing images that need high resolution without high gloss. Velvet also provides high readability, premium performance and a tactile feel. (Keep in mind that it may scratch and scuff though if not coated).

*Technical-More precise halftone dot than matte, greater light and scatter control.
*Aesthetic-Low-glare for excellent readability, adds depth and dimension, human feel.
*Performance-Smooth, even reflectance, unsurpassed resilience & retained ink gloss
>>> Suggested Uses -Text, portraits, textiles such as felt, leather and embroidery.


Silk is a soft-finished surface with moderate paper gloss. Coating pigments are oriented so that light scatter is controlled. Silk is best for printing subjects that have a tactile sense, such as fine fabrics, and require high resolution without high gloss, such as a gem set in gold. Silk also allows for smooth, flat, solid ink lay and excellent readability. (Silk, like Velvet may also scratch and scuff if not coated).

*Technical-Precise halftone dot, controlled pigments like gloss but finished differently for softer resolution.
*Aesthetic-Excellent contrast for enhanced readability, smooth ink lay.
*Performance-Pliant and resilient, on press and off.
>>> Suggested Uses -Fine art, glassware, fabric, and skin tones, detail.


Matte is a smooth, level surface that is not super calendared, so it scatters light and retains a soft and "toothy" touch. It offers a look and feel of uncoated with the print reproduction quality of a coated sheet. (Again, keep in mind Matte also may scratch and scuff if not coated). NOTE, I have found that running a matte/dull stock with a satin aqueous seals and protect the sheet, plus allows you to write on it. Ideal for direct mail with BRC's etc.
*Technical-Less precise halftone dot, disoriented pigments scatter light for softer feel.
*Aesthetic-No glare for unsurpassed viewing and readability, texture enhances handmade nature of artwork, creates impression of substance.
*Performance-Good paper stiffness and run ability, scuffing may occur with softer surfaces
>>> Suggested Uses -Black & white images, text, illustrations, images with texture.


Wow, that is a lot to absorb. No pun intended.
Ok, you got me, I totally planned that.
I would be happy to sit down with you on your next project to see what type of stock would make the most sense, how it plays into your grouping of pieces, etc., please let me know. I have an excellent collection of one of a kind samples and projects showing the same art run differently: different types of coatings, different types of stocks, etc. You may want to review these to help give you some ideas for making your next project look unique. It really starts the creative process byactually seeing what you can do.

You may also want to see the following TK's Korner issues -

Hope this helps and stay tuned for the next issue of TK's Korner. You never know what might be covered!

If you have a production issue not discussed above that you would like me to address, or a project that needs to be looked at, please give me a call or send me an email. I will do whatever it takes to ensure you get the best value for every marketing dollar invested.

You can also check out my profile, join my network and view more client comments on LinkedIn at:

Referrals are greatly appreciated, if you know someone I could help, or who might like to receive TK's Korner, please let me know.

Take care and have a great day!

Tom Kubinski, Printing Consultant

Printing Consultant Who Helps You Make Good Impressions
Direct: 612-278-1568
Cell: 612-760-3700

TK Out Standing in his Field

(PS: If you'd like, Go to http://www.sextonpriE*tNS% !}"I$JhSs%hI GiKsz"bjփ4CݡYVL;W!ݕԱv"!;M;e,OX3XGn ۋM漬* J\DFDSx bʒMQHe4sp8@Uo-15M@Hd]S+XFo7[蛕tǻe%Yk֥}1RjvǕ”xA[Dr5帿񌲯KT2#b,ړɺdi5rnj,ůC7HmFMnesdYKq̔Hl VE%@͐$[_kO{@TTҺW`psT*\6OzVQ2 QAlM7vO!f_MO2ÓNDgkH!x}3ؚ5$c`? 4ArдЈJWNȪ@_:?Z9#6ɸhwdQ@j)+EKu$W aeG妭K4oZ'jFd["-^Z,𚍎^@t a+["F6r_kZ\b C2IёJ*yŪN1hiI1-fU[r6JܵfEgevv'W2f@c-DJ6f@pmsLS qbخ=s<=B~ Fƅ38E1i03"1ޓr3T[D>ɳt"&"ҕ-dQr*WMn6̫x&^ѐO;&Eߵ+:ۋ WTN;5vK؆e MQezJ)2/1+5;NMȈ&r54&"! z2ZD.T1i0̒vZhZR_ČԦ4)M4jXz[DGLc-a@l[%- B5\",:vAYF>6Y3F2>=>U)S&®;B2W L)/YV:ZqI[OSj/VzPj֟)CzWUJєqN[k)󴴤Ĥ̴#!➤;Ze: TVch[E8Q2 r%C' pۣA&&^Gt[iXá-h8K]cq[K#&)m_Meac"2FY,ik-QO6?QI.-{]9jj#2XU&Ŋ?jdb8ŲjYEWm?g EM>8̌mUDu2"FYŴQeb;2%QaKh =LIM&YkgfwZզ>0OQ*!{Lvqm"?|a2*Z!1zWOk5;kK5!ѿ@Jc<FF"8Ft1lYF.BcQy']AqEaz|j妶GB::wܮ A IaX4"- jv+ӵT8H^m,G-5&[:+-_1mK0X#"^SgT̫|Rq*"ܩxqj>MʯnjY2]z8jL$2TEW̵Ǧ[uqtAM2 EڍeyQ,R<Ydce]YʧoOTqe pD+iE