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Coated Premium Coated Coated #1 Coated #2 Coated #3
Coated #4 Coated #5 Coated Board Coated C1S
Coated Laser Paper Coated Reply Card Coated SCA  
Uncoated Bristol Forms Bond Offset Tag & Board
Copy Index Offset Book Text
Cover MICR Reply Card Trans-
Envelope Opaque Script Writing








  • Coated papers have a smooth clay coating applied over a freesheet or groundwood base paper. The base paper is made first, then put through a "bath" of clay coating or coated while running on a machine, with a blade and calender rollers smoothing out the coating on the paper.
  • The clay coating often accounts for as much as half the weight of the paper. (Therefore, 10% postconsumer fiber content in a coated paper may actually equal only 5% of the total sheet.)
  • They are particularly valued by many for their crisp, vibrant reproduction of four-color graphics and photographs.
  • Coated papers are categorized into grades by their brightness and gloss levels.
  • The coating may be finished to a high or dull gloss, or may be matte (not glossy), with other slight variations on these categories.
  • "Matte" finish coated papers are chosen for their look, when a gloss coated paper does not convey the context or "feel" that the paper specifier wants to project.
  • The coating on matte grades is not slick or shiny, but it is also excellent in reproducing 4-color printing processes.

Premium Coated

  • Clay coating over a freesheet base paper
  • The brightest and highest quality grade of coated papers
  • Tends to be a slightly heavier paper than other coated sheets
  • Most often used for high-end and luxury productions such as fine art reproduction, prestige marketing materials, luxury car brochures
  • Might be used to "set the tone" or create an impression, such as for the cover of an annual report
  • Excellent 4-color reproduction
  • Most expensive of the coated papers

Coated #1

  • Clay coating over a freesheet base paper
  • Very similar to Premium Coated, but somewhat less expensive
  • Preferable for multi-page productions, since the quality is close to Premium but the cost is lower
  • Might be used for art books, art-quality posters, high-end advertising, expensive coffee table books
  • Excellent 4-color reproduction

Coated #2

  • Clay coating over a freesheet base paper
  • Less expensive than Coated #1
  • A better quality coated paper than lower grades, used frequently for high quality magazines, posters, advertising

Coated #3

  • The entry level for coated papers with a freesheet base (aren't some of these groundwood, also?)
  • Less expensive than Coated #2
  • The largest segment of coated papers sold through paper merchants, a typical coated paper grade stocked by paper distributors
  • The largest segment of coated papers sold in sheets (in addition to web rolls)
  • Most often used for advertising, brochures, higher-end catalogs, selective high quality magazines (e.g. National Geographic)

Coated #4

  • Clay coating on a groundwood base paper
  • Typically sold directly to printers or publishers in truckload quantities, not usually through paper merchants
  • Less bright and less expensive then freesheet coated papers
  • Used for high volume magazines, catalogs, advertising

Coated #5

  • Coated paper on a groundwood base paper
  • The least bright and least expensive coated paper
  • Used for mass marketing productions such as high-volume and frequently-published magazines (e.g. news weeklies) and high-volume catalogs

Coated Board

  • A heavy weight paper, used for heavier covers such as on higher quality phone books
  • Also used for Point-of-Purchase displays, where the paper needs to be heavy enough to stand up with minimal support

Coated C1S

  • Name means "Coated 1-side"
  • Typically used for making labels
  • Greeting Cards

Coated Laser Paper

  • A coated bond paper specially made for printing good quality photographs from office printers
  • Most often sold through office supply stores or catalogs for business or home office use

Coated Reply Card

  • Paper made to a weight sufficient to meet postal specifications for use as cards or self-mailers to be sent through the mail
  • May be used for return cards in direct mail, or "blow-in" cards in magazines
  • Many return card papers are uncoated.

Coated SCA

  • Name means "Super Calendered, Type A," which refers to the paper having been polished by running through a series of very tight rollers after coming off the papermaking machine.
  • A groundwood shiny newsprint sheet, used for newspaper inserts, advertising
  • Also, with recent upgrades in quality and look, increasingly used for magazines and catalogs


  • Uncoated papers have a slightly fibrous surface rather than a clay coating
  • They may be made in big web rolls for printers, cut into various sheet sizes to fit printing presses, or trimmed to "cut-size" sheets for copiers and other office machines
  • Depending on the papermaking process used, uncoated papers may have fiber contents from 70 - 90+ percent of the sheet.
  • Uncoated sheets used to be made predominantly in an "acid" process. But librarians and others began to realize several decades ago that the acidic quality of the paper limited its lifespan. Many papers are now made in an alkaline process, which results in an acid-free, archival quality paper.
  • May have a wide variety of finishes, depending on the intended use of the paper
  • May include Cover weights — thicker paper appropriate for report covers, heavy brochures, business cards, and similar uses


  • A "white commodity" paper, the workhorse paper of printshops, although may be made in colors as well
  • Similar to bond paper, but prepared for effectiveness in printing operations
  • A high volume, low economic-margin paper
  • "Premium Offset" is the highest quality offset, although otherwise "offsets" meet a common industry standard
  • Finishes most frequently are smooth or vellum, but may also include slight patterning, as in laid or linen finishes
  • Most frequently used for communications and advertising such as direct mail, bills, reports, or magazines
  • May be made by converters into continuous, segmented forms ("forms bond") or into plain or billing envelopes
  • May be made to specially calibrated thicknesses for books ("book offset")
  • May be made with extra opacity ("opaques")

Opaque Paper

  • A higher-quality offset with higher opacity (less show-through)
  • More expensive than commodity offset
  • Because opacity is higher and therefore minimal printing shows through from front to back, printers can use a lighter weight opaque sheet than if using a commodity offset, which saves money when printing in high volumes (and saves money on mailing, as well)
  • Opaque papers are frequenty used for printing books and magazines that are published on uncoated paper
  • "Satin," "Film Coat," and "Thin Coat" finishes spread a very light clay coating on the paper (only about 6-8%) with a blade, then polish the paper to a smoother, tighter finish than other opaques. Computer manuals are frequently printed on this kind of paper.
  • "Lightweight Opaque" paper is the lightest weights made, often used for financial prospectuses, and bank and stock reports

Offset Book Paper

  • Book covers are designed with specific plans for the width of the spine. The paper must be of sufficient bulk to exactly fit into the spine, based on the number of pages. Therefore, Offset Book Papers are made to "ppi," or "pages per inch," so that book cover designers can determine exactly how thick the book will be based on the number of pages, or the publisher can order paper to the correct ppi to fit the spine of the book.
  • Book marketing studies find that books of a particular thickness sell better than books with the same number, but thinner, pages, most likely because thicker book spines are more visible and eye-catching when lined up on a bookshelf
  • Many offset papers are made as commodity or opaque offsets, but can also be made to ppi, thereby qualifying as book offsets
  • Many mills specialize in making book offset papers
  • Book offset papers are usually not highly bright, since high light reflection can make extended reading times stressful on eyes
  • Book offset finishes tend to be either smooth or slightly fibrous
  • A "hi-bulk" finish usually indicates a book quality paper that is both lighter yet also thicker (because of air infusion) than comparable papers

Copy Paper

  • Copy paper is also called "copier paper," "repro," and "xerographic"
  • It is a "white commodity paper" made in extremely high volumes, with small profit margins
  • It is specially moisture-balanced to operate problem-free in photocopiers.
  • Similar papers used to be divided into "bond" and "high speed (copier) " grades, but those seem to be collapsed into the "copy paper" grade now
  • Office printer companies have recently begun differentiating between "copy papers," "laser papers," and "ink jet papers," particularly in office supply stores, although all these papers are very similar. Ink jet papers have a tighter surface, for better ink hold-out and less splattering.
  • Many papers are now being marketed as "multi-purpose" or "dual purpose," made to be appropriate for use in the most common types of office machines, including copiers and different types of printers
  • It is not necessary to use brand name papers with the same brand name office machine, or to use laser papers only in laser printers. (Laser printers and copiers are essentially the same technology.) The papers are essentially interchangeable.
  • In the past few years, heavier weight copier papers have been introduced (24 lb., as opposed to the previous standard of 20 lb.) These use more fiber to make the paper, not a positive environmental direction, and are unnecessary for most copier purposes.
  • Copy paper usually comes in cut sizes of 8-1/2 x 11, 8 x 14, and sometimes 11 x 17. It may also be hole-punched. It is most often sold in reams or cartons. Some specialized copy paper, for specific machines, comes in rolls.
  • While the majority of copy paper is white, it also often comes in colors
  • Many paper manufacturers guarantee that their recycled copier paper will work fine in copiers. Today's recycled copier paper is high quality. It is important to use a paper graded as "copier" in copier machines to avoid jams and other problems.

Text and Cover Paper

  • Often beautiful designer papers, both in white and colors, with a variety of finishes, often lightly patterned
  • Some recycled Text and Cover papers have specks as part of their design. These specks may come from ink dispersed but left in the fibers during recycling without deinking, but it frequently is colored fibers added back into the clean recycled pulp to introduce a design element.
  • Tree-free papers are most frequently found in Text and Cover grades, which are easier to adapt to innovation than other printing and writing grades. They are also most likely to be cost-competitive in these grades.
  • Most likely to combine two or more environmental features
  • Frequently used for letterhead, brochures, invitations, and other kinds of communications
  • Most appropriate for use in printing processes at printshops, while the slightly lighter and smoother Writing/Script papers, which are often companions to Text and Cover lines, have become preferred for use in laser and other printers
  • Writing/Script weights (see below), rather than Text weights, are preferable for use in copiers
  • Text papers are often made into envelopes to match letterhead and invitations
  • Cover weights are heavier papers appropriate for business cards, stiff brochures, report covers and other stiffer paper needs
  • Text and Cover papers are made in both web rolls and also various printing paper sizes, to match different printing presses.
  • Text and Cover papers are made with similar economies of scale whether they're made as recycled or virgin, so pricing is very competitive.

Writing/Script Paper

  • Script or Writing papers are often the lighter-weight part of a Text and Cover line, matching its designer elements
  • Their finish is frequently smoother, for compatibility with laser printers and photocopiers
  • Primarily used for correspondence and letterhead
  • Usually available as cut-sizes, especially 8-1/2 x 11.

Bristol Paper

  • A heavy paper, but not as fancy nor as expensive as Cover paper
  • Used for report covers, signs, point-of-purchase displays or other settings requiring thick, stiff paper

Envelope Paper

  • Intended to go directly to converters to be made into standard envelopes
  • Envelopes can also be made from other papers, such as Text

Forms Bond

  • Paper made in rolls that are sold to companies that convert it into continuous forms or other formats
  • Forms bond is used for bills, multi-part documents, business forms, applications, and other formats that are filled out or repeatedly duplicated

Index Paper

  • May be used for making index cards, file and other folders, signs

MICR Paper

  • MICR is safety paper made in a process that protects the paper from alterations from chemicals or erasing or other methods
  • Often used for bank and personal checks

Reply Card Paper

  • Paper made to a weight sufficient to meet postal specifications for use as cards or self-mailers to be sent through the mail
  • May be used for return cards in direct mail, or "blow-in" advertising cards in magazines
  • Some reply cards are made from Coated paper

Tag and Board

  • Heavy paper used most often for retail and industrial purposes, especially hang-tags and uses where the paper must withstand a great deal of handling

Translucent Paper

  • See-through, often filmy-type paper, most often used for overlays
  • May be used in annual reports and as a protective paper in very fancy invitations


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