Paper is a thin material produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets.
Paper is a versatile material with many uses. Whilst the most common is for writing and printing upon, it is also widely used as a packaging material, in many cleaning products, in a number of industrial and construction processes.
Paper density (also known as basis weight and grammage) is a term used in the pulp and paper industry and also for fabric industry to denote a measure of mass of the product per unit of area for a type of fabric, paper or paperboard. The term “density” is not used in its traditional sense of mass per unit volume. “Paper density”, rather, is a measure of the area density. Paper products that let little or no light pass through (e.g. poster board) are considered dense or heavy. Paper products that allow some light to pass through (e.g. tissue paper) are considered lightweight.
People like to use atte paper because you do not get any glare on it like you would with semi-gloss or glossy paper. Matte papers are generally not as durable as semi-gloss (sometimes called luster) paper or glossy paper as handling of matte prints can sometimes cause abrasion marks similar to running your fingers across a suede or microfiber material. As a result, matte paper is not generally suited for prints that are to be handled in their naked state.
Semi-gloss or “luster” papers offer a good compromise between glare, color range, and durability. With a color range close to that of glossy paper, you can be sure you are getting the full power of your printer while at the same time reducing glare and smudges. Semi-gloss papers may not completely eliminate glare but most of them reduce glare to a point where it is not an issue except under the most extreme lighting conditions and viewing angles. Where glossy used to be my favorite paper type for getting the most color vibrancy and detail from any printer, some of the latest semi-gloss offerings are quickly changing my mind or at least making it a toss-up between glossy and semi-gloss paper when matte paper is not specifically called for.
Glossy papers generally offer the widest color range and best resolution, but they suffer from glare which can be a problem under certain lighting conditions. As pointed out above, glossy paper is excellent for photos that will be handled in their “naked” state. They may show fingerprints, but they are usually quite durable, to the point where you can easily wipe off smudges or fingerprints without harming the prints. Profiling glossy papers is also often easier as glossy papers offer a “no compromises” quality that truly brings out the best in color and resolution that your printer can offer. They are often not the best choice, however, for scrapbooks or glass mounting as they can sometimes stick to the surface that is mounted against the printed side of the paper! For mounting behind glass or plastic sleeves, semi-gloss may be the best compromise. Also be aware that if you do decide to go with third party papers, glossy papers are the most particular about compatibility with certain printers. That is, it is easier to find third party glossy papers that don’t work well with your particular printer or have gas/light fade problems with certain inks.
Coated paper has a glossy or matte finish. Coated paper is generally very smooth and can be either very shiny (high gloss) or have a subtle shine (matte). Either way, coated paper will have a great effect on the appearance and usefulness of the printed item. Coated paper is more resistant to dirt, moisture and wear. It also makes the printed material more shiny. That is why it is generally used in the printing of magazines, book covers, glossy photos and art books. Coating restricts the amount of ink that is absorbed by the paper and how the ink bleeds into the paper. This is desirable for sharp and complex images as the ink stays on top of the paper and will not wick or bleed reducing the sharpness of the printed material. This same property can be unattractive for the back of business cards as the coated paper does not take well to pen ink or pencil and many people like to write on the back of business cards.
Generally more absorbent of ink than a coated paper, like its namesake, uncoated paper does not have a coating. It is generally not as smooth as coated paper and tends to be more porous. Uncoated paper is generally used for letterhead, envelopes and printed material that is aiming for a more prestigious or elegant look. College and University booklets, real estate brochures and menus for elegant restaurants are generally printed on uncoated paper to give them a prestigious feel.