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Paper 101. Coated vs Uncoated Paper

Coated vs Uncoated Paper – Choosing the Right Type of Paper Practically every printing project is produced on either coated or uncoated paper. Both have pros and cons relative to the piece. Most professional print shops usually have a preferred or “house” stock available in both types to accommodate various types of printed projects. Coated or Uncoated paper isn’t necessarily “better” than the other but knowing when to use coated vs uncoated paper can certainly make all the difference in your final print results. Coated vs Uncoated Paper – What’s the Difference? When it comes to coated vs uncoated paper, the primary difference is the way the paper is manufactured. Coated papers (most people call it glossy) have a slight coating on them (typically made of a clay), so that the paper is “sealed.” This coating limits the amount of ink that is absorbed into the paper, allowing the ink to “sit” on top of the paper, in a more defined dot (think crisp or sharp images). Uncoated papers on the other hand do not have this coating and are a bit more porous. The ink soaks into or is absorbed into the paper and has a softer appearance. Uncoated papers are categorized into different category types: bond, offset, opaque, text and cover. Coated papers are categorized in two ways; by their clay coating finish: gloss, ultra-gloss, dull, silk or matte or by brightness. Most are called Premium, No. 1, No. 2, No.3, No.4, No. 5. A coated paper with brightness or whiteness of 88+ or above is a premium paper. The higher the brightness level, the more light that “bounces” off the paper. Most all printing inks are transparent, so the reflectiveness gives the visual appearance of a crisp sharp image. Generally with coated papers, the more-glossy the finish, the less ink absorption means a crisper printed image. Uncoated papers are also defined by their brightness levels. The brighter the paper, the more light reflected back to the eye. For example, our house uncoated paper stock is a 96 Bright white sheet, meaning 96% of the light is reflected back to the eye. This level of brightness helps full color and detailed images really “pop”. The finish of paper is another way to identify uncoated paper. Some of the most common are: smooth, super smooth, laid, linen, vellum, and cockle just to name a few. Consider the smoothness of uncoated paper when considering uncoated papers for high quality printing. The smoother the sheet the more even the ink will lay. This is especially important when printing crisp photos, detailed graphics, or areas of heavy ink coverage. What is best for your next print project? Coated paper offers a sharp, crisp result in contrast between the printed photos or images and whitespace with a cool, sophisticated touch. Their coated surface provides an excellent vehicle for photos with fine detail and enjoy a greater contrast between the printed photo and white area. Coated paper is used for most magazines and high-end catalogs requiring “glossy” prestigious image, think sports cards, diamonds and designer hand bags. Quality coated paper provides prestigious canvas for vivid pictures with superior detail and offers greater contrast between the printed image and white space. Uncoated papers have a warmth and tactility factor to them with lots of options for recycled and post-consumer content available. Linen or lain finish paper imply a sense of authenticity and respectability. It’s these characteristics that make them ideal for projects in the resumes, non-profit reports or annual reports and environmental marketing. Uncoated paper is almost always used for letterhead, envelopes, some direct mail and catalogs as well. Unique finishes on uncoated papers can create a “3D-like” quality to photos featuring textiles, think home furnishings, fun apparel and art and museum printing. Regardless of the finish, coated papers are ideal for specialty techniques like varnishes, UV coatings and Gold or Silver foil stamping and die cutting custom shapes. There are a few drawbacks of coated papers. Writing on coated paper with a pen can be a problem, not the case on uncoated paper. If the project cntaints a lot of text or small details, the glare of gloss coated papers can make it more challenging to read. Uncoated papers work well with specialties like embossing/debossing (blind embossing), letterpress and foil stamping. They provide a nice contrast between the surface of the printed sheet and the embossing or foil stamping. Uncoated paper is great for folding, even on heavier weights (always best to fold with the grain); and are an excellent choice for custom packaging projects. There are some areas to be careful of. Pictures and images with high detail, especially in the mid-tone areas, can sometimes appear “muddy.” Uncoated paper may require additional drying time (good to note in tight turnaround projects). Costs? When choosing between coated vs uncoated paper be sure to think about factors like opacity and thickness. Often you can use a lighter weight uncoated sheet vs coated. For example, if you are looking at an 80 lb coated text paper, a 70 lb uncoated paper will generally have better opacity and thickness. This weight reduction may help save shipping or postage costs on the final printed piece. Both coated and uncoated papers come are available in all price points. Your print budget alone should not dictate a paper specification. If a tight budget prevails, involve us early on in the process. We can help you select options that will stay within your budget and produce award winning results!    

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  • What types of printing services does AlphaGraphics offer?
    AlphaGraphics specializes in custom brochure and booklet printing services. Whether you need full-color brochures, booklets, or leave-behinds, we have the expertise and technology to deliver high-quality, visually appealing printed materials for your business.
  • Can I get my brochures and booklets printed in 24 hours?
    Yes, at AlphaGraphics on Camelback, we offer fast and efficient brochure and booklet printing services. We can take your print-ready PDF file and have your booklets and leaflets printed in 24 hours or less. Custom printed booklets with quick turnaround are our specialty.
  • What formatting options are available for booklet printing?
    AlphaGraphics offers digital booklet printing in black and white or full color. You can choose from a variety of style, weight, and colored paper options. Additionally, we provide various binding styles, including perfect binding, saddle stitch, and coil binding, allowing you to illustrate your point clearly and effectively.
  • Does AlphaGraphics provide design services for brochures?
    Yes, AlphaGraphics on Camelback offers design services for brochures and booklets. Whether you have completed designs or need assistance with the design and layout, our experienced graphic designers can create professional materials that effectively communicate your message and represent your brand.
  • How do I start the printing process at AlphaGraphics?
    Getting started is easy. Bring in or send us the booklet you wish to print, select the formatting options suitable for your project, choose the size and paper for pages and covers, and specify the quantity. Our team is flexible on run quantities, making it convenient for you to print the desired quantity of brochures or booklets.
  • What printing technology does AlphaGraphics use?
    AlphaGraphics on Camelback utilizes HP Indigo 7900 digital full-color printing presses, known for providing the highest quality in the industry. With super-fast digital printing capabilities, your full-color or black and white printed pieces will grab attention and get noticed. We also use the latest printing technology for on-demand booklets and leaflets.
  • What sizes are commonly used for brochures and booklets?
    The most common sizes for brochures and booklets are based on a standard 8.5" x 11" letter-size sheet, folded to create various formats. Popular sizes include bifold (5.5" x 8.5"), trifold (3.625" x 8.5"), and rack cards (4" x 9" or 3.5" x 8.5"). AlphaGraphics can provide templates for proper folds and other formats like rack cards.
  • What are the different binding options for booklets?
    Booklets can be saddle-stitched, perfect bound, plastic coil bound, GBC comb bound, twin loop wire "O" bound, or hardback bound. Each binding method has specific uses and cost advantages or disadvantages. AlphaGraphics experts can guide you through all your options to choose the best binding method for your specific project.
  • Can AlphaGraphics send brochures directly to clients?
    Yes, once your design is finalized, AlphaGraphics can print and directly mail brochures to your targeted audience through our direct mail marketing services. We can assist in purchasing a targeted mailing list based on demographics, ensuring your brochures reach the right audience effectively.
  • What sets AlphaGraphics Camelback apart from other printers?
    AlphaGraphics Camelback stands out as a local brochure printing expert with over 40 years of experience serving clients in Arizona. We print all products onsite using top-notch digital printing technology, including HP Indigo 7900 presses. Our full-service capabilities cover design, print, finishing, and mailing, providing a one-stop solution for your brochure printing needs.
  • How can I get a quote for my brochure or booklet printing?
    To get a quote, you can send your information, including quantity needed, size, folds, etc., to AlphaGraphics. If you have a print-ready file, it's preferable to send a high-resolution PDF file with crop marks and bleeds for accurate printing. AlphaGraphics experts can quickly provide a fully written quote tailored to your requirements.
  • Does AlphaGraphics offer professional graphic design help?
    Yes, AlphaGraphics has a full-time staff of four degreed graphic artists available at competitive hourly rates. Whether you have a napkin doodle or need assistance with fixing your file, our graphic design team can transform your ideas into professional, eye-catching designs for your brochures and booklets.
  • What is the most popular size for brochures and booklets?
    The most popular size is a standard 8.5" x 11" letter-size sheet, either folded in half for a bifold or folded in thirds for a trifold brochure. These sizes are versatile and commonly used. Rack cards, although not brochures, are typically 4" x 9" or 3.5" x 8.5" and printed on two sides of card stock in full color, often with a high gloss finish.
  • What finishing options are available for brochures?
    AlphaGraphics offers special finishing options such as spot UV coating, full flood coating with silk or high gloss UV coatings or laminates, custom die-cutting for special shapes, and business card die-cut slits. These finishing touches enhance the visual appeal of brochures, making them stand out and leave a lasting impression.