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Gloss, silk or uncoated…?

When you are working on a print project, there is always a choice when it comes to finish. So, let’s talk about what your options are and what you need to consider when making your choice.

Weighing up your options…

You may be aware that paper is weighted differently (GSM) and that there are different finishes available. It is important to have awareness of this to ensure you can optimise the presentation of your printed material. In this blog we cover the most common types of paper finish; gloss, silk and uncoated and explain the difference between each, to give you an idea which paper type to select and when.


As the name suggests, gloss paper has a particularly shiny coating. 

Way back when, gloss ruled the print world but unfortunately has become a victim of its own success and is nowadays seen as old fashioned and a little out of date. Gloss has very definitely fallen out of favour with forward-thinking businesses and organisations who generally don’t want the negative connotations of being out of touch when it comes to digital and litho printing. Other than just being out of fashion, there are other reasons many choose not to use it.  Junk-mail tends to be printed on gloss paper (which may have impacted on the perception of quality that people once had) and it is also worth bearing in mind that you can’t easily write on gloss paper with a ballpoint either.


Also a coated paper similarly to gloss, silk paper is somewhere between a gloss and a matt finish. It has a slight sheen to it, without having that mirror-like shine of a full gloss.

Silk is by far the most popular paper that The Digital Studios prints onto right now. As a rough estimate, about 90% of the posters, leaflets and brochures we do on coated stock is usin silk paper.

Silk can be written on with a ballpoint pen too. Although not perfect, it’s much easier to write onto than gloss so is kind of your happy medium on that point too.


Uncoated is just as the name suggests – it doesn’t have the coating that gives the paper a gloss or a silk finish. For example, a regular copier or printer paper is uncoated. Uncoated paper has that slightly fluffy feel to it because you are touching the paper fibres directly. It was once seen as old fashioned or boring (when coated paper options first appeared) but it’s now enjoying something of a renaissance, perhaps due to the negative perception of gloss material.

Uncoated paper is perfect for writing on – after all it basically IS writing paper! Ideal for quality printed business stationery.

Final thoughts…

So why does paper type matter? Well, when it comes to your printed material, it is very often the first (albeit indirect) interaction you might have with potential customers. First impressions count. The quality of your comms material will influence the perceived quality of your business, and that of your brand and it is better to be in the know when it comes to current design trends. If you would like to know more about this and/or how digital marketing can work for your business, get in touch with us here at The Digital Studios.

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