Over the last year or so, it’s been challenging to get a paper supply, especially when it comes to specialty papers. At Athens, we’re anticipating brighter days ahead, but it’s still important to keep supply chain challenges in mind. In particular, if you’re looking for specialty papers or need a large quantity, be sure to work with your print provider and allow plenty of time for the order to be completed.
As you consider your paper options for upcoming projects, here are a few of the most important considerations to keep in mind.
Coated Vs. Uncoated Paper
To start with, paper falls into two high-level categories: coated paper and uncoated paper.
The coated paper features a clay coating applied to the base paper, resulting in a smoother (and, in some cases, glossy) surface. These papers can be coated on just one side or on both, and they come in a variety of finishes, including glossy, satin, dull, matte, and metallic. While coated papers are great for producing vibrant, crisp images, as they reduce ink absorbency, but they also usually require another coating or varnish on top to prevent smudging. Coated papers also are a poor choice for anything that is intended to be written on, such as forms or stationery.
Uncoated paper has not been coated with anything prior to printing, allowing the ink to absorb more. These papers come in a wide range of textures, colors, and finishes, and they’re the paper of choice when printing forms or any other items that need to be written on. Printing on uncoated paper may require adjustments to ensure that colors and images print as intended, due to the ink absorbency.
Paper Brightness Vs. Paper Opacity
Both brightness and opacity are qualities of paper that have to do with its relationship to light. These two factors usually have an inverse relationship to each other.
Brightness refers to the percentage of light (in a narrow spectral range) that the paper’s surface reflects. A brighter paper can impact readability, as well as the vibrancy of colors. Brightness is measured on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the brightest.
Opacity refers to the percentage of light that passes through a sheet of paper. In other words, it reflects how much of a printed image is likely to be seen through the opposite side of the sheet. Factors such as weight, fiber, absorbency, shade, and more can affect opacity. Opacity is measured on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being completely opaque.
Paper weight describes how light or heavy a type of paper is. The basis weight is calculated by determining the weight of 500 sheets of the basic size of a given paper. These are further categorized by cover stocks and text stocks, since the base sizes are not the same.
Choosing the weight for a specific project requires considering several factors, such as the intended lifespan of the piece, its durability, budget, and more. At Athens, we use the “ABC” method to help find the right paper for each project: audience, budget, and context.
Paper also comes in a wide color range, reflecting the dye that is already present in the paper before any printing happens. During the printing process, the ink will be absorbed (to different degrees, depending on the paper type) and mix with the underlying color. Choosing a colored paper requires careful consideration and calculation to ensure that the final printed image is the intended color.
Athens is here to help you with all your paper needs. If you’re not sure about your options for a particular project, or you’d just like to learn more, talk to our expert team today!