Selecting a paper can often be very confusing; there are numerous different types and brands of paper available today. When selecting paper, be sure to keep in mind that the choice you make for your project will affect how the printed piece is perceived. Paper choice can also have a large impact on the price of your job.

what distinguishes different papers?

FINISH: The finish of a paper is it’s surface texture. Uncoated and coated paper have different surface textures.

  • Coated – Either Glossy or Matt – surface has a  “sheen”.
  • Uncoated – A paper with an untreated surface that is dull and unreflective.
  • Wove – A smooth uncoated surface.
  • Laid – A paper that is manufactured with textured lines on its surface. This finish is used mostly for business stationery elements, like letterhead, envelopes and business cards.
  • Linen – Similar to a laid finish, this paper has textured lines on the surface of the sheet, but they are finer and more regular than those that appear on a laid finish stock. This paper is also used frequently for business stationery.
  • Laser – A paper that is guaranteed to be compatible with laser printers.
  • Coated One Side (C1S) – A cover stock that has a coating on one side and is dull on the reverse side.
  • Coated Two Sides (C2S) – A cover stock that has a coating on both sides.


The weight of paper refers to its thickness and is measured in Gsm (grams per square meter).

The higher the number, the more (equivalent) weight a paper has. Be aware that highly processed art boards may in fact be thinner than a lighter weight “high bulk” packaging board. The more processed a stock is, the more compressed the cellulose becomes.


A paper’s opacity is determined by its weight, ingredients and absorbency. A paper’s opacity determines how much printing will show through on the reverse side of a sheet. Opacity is expressed in terms of it’s percentage of reflection. Complete opacity is 100% and complete transparency is 0%.


The brightness of a sheet of paper measures the percentage of a wavelength of blue light it reflects. The brightness of a piece of paper is typically expressed on a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being the brightest. Most papers reflect 60-90% of light. The brightness of a paper affects readability, the perception of ink coloUr and the contrast between light and dark hues.

types of paper

Offset: Also known as book or text paper, offset paper can have a coated or uncoated finish. Offset paper is thinner and lightweight. It is often used for publication interior sheets, brochures & flyers, and letterheads. Common offset weights: 80gsm, 90gsm, 100gsm, 120gsm, 150gsm.

Bond: Bond or writing papers are most often used for letterhead. The most commonly recognized bond or writing stocks are:

90gsm – The preferred weight for most business papers (letterheads).

100gsm – Heavier paper, less frequently used.

Cover: Cover stocks are heavy in weight, rigid and not easily folded. These papers are generally used for publication covers, business cards, greeting cards, folders, and postcards. They can have coated or uncoated finishes. Common weights for cover stocks include: 200gsm, 250gsm, 300gsm, 350gsm

Specialty: Specialty stocks can include a huge range of colours and finishes including Laid (see above), Metallic, Translucent, etc

Self Adhesive: Used for stickers and labels these can gloss, vellum, or even fluro. Vinyl adhesive is required for outdoor use.


We have swatch samples from all the New Zealand paper merchants so feel free to pop in and view for yourself.