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types of paper


How is Paper Made?

Tree Lined Park

Before we get into all the different types of paper available to you, let’s start at the beginning. How is paper actually made? 


First, fibers are extracted from a variety of forestry products, usually trees. Then, those fibers are pounded into pulp. The pulp is then mixed with water and put on a paper-making mechanism where it is flattened, dries, and cut into sheets and rolls. But it’s important to note that not all paper starts from tree pulp! Some comes from cotton and other textile fibers while other paper starts out as recycled fibers, like pre- and post-consumer waste.

Qualities of Paper

These days, paper types come in countless different varieties, with many different qualities you need to consider in order to know which is right for your needs. The top qualities to consider are:

  • Size

  • Weight

  • Brightness

  • Material

  • Coat

Of course, there are other attributes, like color or different specialty types. For most of your office needs, the above list is going to have you covered. We’ll get into the specifics of some of these below.

Types of Paper
and Their Uses

Cover Stock
Cover stock come in many different coats and finished. This is a sturdy sheet made more rigid than text stock from a blend of hardwood and softwood materials. Typical uses for cover stock include business cards, die cut items and covers of calendars or magazines. 

Text Stock
Text stock is specifically designed to absorb the intense inks used during the printing process. This paper is lighter than cover stock but more robust than standard copy paper. 

Synthetic stock is a great option if you need your project to withstand the elements inside or outside. Rather than wood pulp as the primary ingredient, synthetic polymers are used which deliver additional material properties. This type of paper is ideal for restaurant menus to guides used by farmers in the fields.

Paper Weights
and Thickness

To measure the durability and sturdiness of a piece of paper, you must look at both the weight and thickness together. Paper thickness is usually measured in points, with one point equaling one thousandth, or .001, of an inch. For example, 10-point paper would be .01 inches thick.


As far as measuring weight, the United States typically measures paper in pounds by the ream, or by 500 sheets of that paper. So, if a paper is referred to as “28 pounds,” that means the actual sheet of paper is 28 pounds divided by 500. In general, the higher the weight of the paper, the better quality and more durable it is. 20 or 24 pounds are typical weights for standard copy paper while cardstock might be around 80 or 100 pounds.

Common Stocks and Weights:

Offset/Uncoated Text: 50 lb., 60 lb., 70 lb., 80 lb.

Offset/Uncoated Cover: 65 lb., 80 lb., 100 lb., 110 lb., 130 lb.

Coated (Matte or Gloss) Book: 60 lb., 70 lb., 80 lb., 100 lb.

Coated (Matte or Gloss) Cover: 80 lb., 100 lb., 110 lb., 130 lb.

While we can order and print on  most any stock out there, we do not keep stocks outside the ranges above on hand. Heavier weights and textured papers are always special order.

Paper Coats

One more quality of your paper you need to consider is the coating. Coating is basically the finish or the texture of your paper and could have a big impact on your finished project or printing job. Below are the three most common types of coats you will find for your paper.

Uncoated Paper

Uncoated paper has no kind of extra coating added from the paper manufacturer, allowing the ink to soak directly into the paper. This type of paper will work best for projects with lots of text or outlined images but won’t work as well for image-heavy documents or high ink value projects, as the lack of coating can cause the ink to bleed and appear muddy. 

Gloss Coated Paper

Gloss Coated Paper has a glossy finish applied to it by the manufacturer and thus has a reflective shine to it that will help your images and graphics really pop. As opposed to uncoated paper, the gloss keeps the ink from soaking directly into the paper, making your images crystal clear. Gloss coated is best used for flyers, posters, postcards, and any other projects where your images need to shine.

Matte Coated Paper

Matte Coated Paper has a coating similar to the Gloss Coated, but has a duller, less shiny finish to it. The ink will still sit on top of the paper rather than sinking in but won’t pop as much as the Gloss Coated. This finish is ideal for any kind of project that people might end up writing on, like greeting cards or business cards.

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