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Layout Design by Kate Hanley

by John Prothero Prothero Press

Paper is a crucial variable in print, giving the option of coated or non-coated surfaces. It can be smooth, or super smooth, with a light texture, or a heavy, mill-applied texture. Other options include color or shade.

As you can see, paper can be confusing, so here’s some vocabulary to help the designer understand how to specify paper:


Coated paper – as paper is manufactured, it can be subj- ected to a process called “calendaring,” which is basically polishing the surface of the paper until it reaches a specific smoothness. There are different types of coatings such as gloss, matte, silk, dull, or cast-coated (highly polished, and usually only on specific types of sheets).


Uncoated paper – is sometimes referred to as “text” paper, since a book cover might be coated and on a thicker paper, while the text is on a thinner and less smooth paper. Uncoated papers are called “text,” “offsets,” or “opaque offsets.” Smooth or super smooth are other options. Ink sits on uncoated papers differently, so the appearance is different.


Cover – this term comes from the publishing business and basically means anything that is thick and used as the cover on a book or catalog. Cover’s thickness makes it an excellent choice for books, business cards, present- ation folders, brochures, posters, or anything that requires heavier duty protection. Cover paper can be coated or uncoated, and has the same properties as the counterpart text or book papers. For example, you may wish to order a booklet that uses a 100# matte cover, from the same manufacturer of the text paper, but in 80# book.


Text or book – for the longest time, printers would say “book” if it was a coated text sheet, and “text” or offset for a non-coated sheet. Lately, printers and designers refer to book as “coated text” or “uncoated text” when specifying a job. This is much more precise than simply referring to it as “book”, but you’ll still hear printers refer to it as “book” when they mean a coated, non-cover sheet.

Brochures, flyers, and the text of a book or magazine are printed on text or book paper. # is not a hashtag – we printers are a funny bunch of fools who use “#” as the abbreviation for “pound.” The term has an interesting history and you can learn more about its development on Google.

Vol. 3 Issue 6 | 13

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