Coated and Uncoated Defined

Coated paper has been covered with a hardened clay material (sealant) so that it will better display text and images with sharper detail and denser color. The coating can be a non-shiny matte, dull, gloss and cast coated (a mirror-finish high gloss), spanning the range from non to super glossy.  Paper can be coated on one or both sides. Paper coated on one side is often used for low-cost postcards. Coated paper is more difficult to write on, especially with pencils or ballpoint pens. Coated paper is great for: 

  • brochures
  • catalogs
  • postcards
  • packaging
  • a product that you won't be writing on

Uncoated paper has a non-glare surface and is absorbent. It has nothing covering the natural fibers and easily soaks up ink. Uncoated paper can be textured, for example, a linen finish, but it can also be very smooth, like printer or copy paper. Uncoated paper is the easiest to write on. Uncoated paper is generally used for things like: 

  • stationery and standard envelopes
  • inexpensive flyers
  • newsletters
  • a final product you can write on

Types of Coated Paper

Gloss-coated paper: Shiny and supports high contrast and a wider color gamut than other types of paper. It is often used for marketing materials and magazines with a lot of color images. Gloss paper lends a "pop" to color images printed on it that doesn't occur on uncoated papers. It can, however, exhibit glare, which makes any text harder to read. 


Dull-coated paper: A better choice when images and text are both important in a print job. The reduction of glare on the dull-coated paper makes the text easy to read, while the coated surface delivers a smooth, high-quality base for image reproduction. 


Matte-coated paper: Similar to dull coated, it is a little lighter to the touch and less shiny than matte paper. From a quality standpoint, it is the least premium of the coated stocks, and it is usually the least expensive as a result.

Types of Supplemental Lamination

Coating as a lamination is supplemental sealant after printing for added effect and/or protection.

Aqueous Coating: Aqueous coating is a high-gloss or matte coating that offers excellent protection for printed pieces. It is added on top of the ink on coated paper stock and is often used on postcards, making them basically waterproof. Aqueous coating is water based, making it environmentally friendly. If you want to wrap your piece in the printing equivalent of armor, aqueous coating is for you. 


UV Coating: UV coating uses ultraviolet light to quickly dry the coating, hardening it to a brilliant shine. UV coating blows all other coatings away when it comes to gloss, but is so hard it may crack when folded. UV coating is not a good idea for a piece that will be folded, scored, foil stamped or embossed.

Spot UV: It can be applied in small areas, termed spot UV, creating brilliant highlights on your piece. The high gloss has the effect of making colors appear even more vibrant and kinetic. If you want very high-gloss pieces with colors that explode off the page, UV coating is for you.

Matte Coating: A matte coating is still a coating on your paper. It may look matte, but it will resist smudges; and printing, especially images, will look sharper and more vibrant. Matte coated paper is usually ok to write on, but lacks the tactile feel of uncoated paper. Uncoated stock is naked paper - it's perfect for writing.