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All About Paper: Paper Weights and Different Paper Types, Explained
G’day, Inkable friends!


To help you get started on your project, we’ve created a 2-part blog series that summarizes everything you need to know about PAPER.


You might be able to envision how your printed communications would look like–colour schemes, images, and text—but at the same time would be just clueless about which particular paper type best suits your business deliverables or personal projects.


All you need to know about paper is right here. Let’s get you up to speed, shall we?




Essentially, most paper products come from recycled boards and discarded paper material. On the other hand, “virgin paper” is made of entirely of pure wood pulp.





All About Paper: Paper Weights and Different Paper Types, ExplainedWhat is “gsm” and why does it matter?

100gsm or 200gsm? “GSM” isn’t a manufacturer’s paper code. It is the basic unit of measurement to give you an idea of how thick or thin a certain paper stock is. Grams per Square Meter is the weight of one square meter of a particular paper stock, referring to the physical weight of a 100cm x 100cm sheet of paper. This means that the higher the gsm, the heavier (and generally, the thicker) the paper.




INKABLE TIP: If you compare paper weight between different types of paper (say, Kraft paper versus Line paper), it would be like comparing apples to oranges. To get the correct comparison, get paper type references so you can accurately gauge the thickness and density of the paper type you are looking for.


Gsm dictates how substantial a type of paper is for a particular purpose. Lower gsm yields thinner paper that would be seen as more “disposable” and great for hand outs, event stubs, and coupons. Higher gsm yields thicker paper that most people would deem more “upmarket” and appropriate for event invitations, note cards, professional business cards, and more durable against wear-and-tear for something like hang tags or presentation folders which will be expected to hold up for a longer time.





Now that you’re set on a certain paper thickness in mind, let’s move on what paper stock you’d probably want to use. Paper can either be coated or uncoated, and this is a big factor that determines the final look, feel, and utility of your printed piece.



Uncoated Paper


All About Paper: Paper Weights and Different Paper Types, ExplainedUncoated vs. Coated Paper Stock

Know what newsprint is? That’s a dinkum example of uncoated paper. This type of paper does not have any clay, pigment, or adhesive applied to it. Because of this, uncoated paper (such as Inkable’s 350 gsm Ivory and 300 Tan Speckled Cotton) has a more fibrous surface and therefore soaks up ink like a sponge.



INKABLE TIP: Since ink quickly enters the fibers and spreads out, there is more “bleeding” of colours with uncoated paper. It isn’t recommended for photos because they will not give you crisp prints. However for handouts like flyers, or inexpensive booklets, premium uncoated paper would be acceptable.


Opt for uncoated paper for internal use: professional letterheads, leaflets, and inexpensive envelopes.




Coated Paper


All About Paper: Paper Weights and Different Paper Types, ExplainedInkable’s 350gsm Coated Paper Stock

Coated paper is similar to varnished wood. An uncoated paper’s surface can be treated with a clay compound (Kaolinite and Calcium Carbonate for commercial printing) on one or both sides to make its surface smother, improve its opacity and brightness, as well as to reduce the amount of ink absorbed.


Coating, or in Inkable’s case, Laminate (A.K.A. “Celloglaze”) is actually a thin film that sits on top of one or both sides of the paper to help ink stay on top without seeping into the paper fibers. By coating the paper, surface printability is greatly improved, and sharper detail can be shown with bonzer colour density.




Coating affects the writability of paper—Gloss coatings make it difficult for pens or regular markers to register on the paper’s surface.

Coatings enhance the mechanical properties of paper, such as resistance to moisture, tear, and ink scuffing.

Did you know that the coating accounts for almost half the weight of the actual paper?



Knowing how each coating works with the paper and ink’s visual effect will help you make more informed decisions so that you can take control of how the final printed piece will look like.


All About Paper: Paper Weights and Different Paper Types, ExplainedInkable’s 300gsm Coated Gloss Laminate

Gloss coating is extremely smooth and reflects a lot of light right back at the light source. Under certain lighting conditions, glare can be a problem; although this is offset by its ability to offer the widest colour range for sharp and vibrant full-colour photo reproductions.



All About Paper: Paper Weights and Different Paper Types, ExplainedInkable’s 300gsm Coated Matte Laminate

Matte disperses light and has a rougher surface compared to Gloss that makes handling of Matte prints problematic because abrasion marks and ink scuffing are likely to occur. Although it doesn’t print as well as Gloss (generally, colours are duller and with less contrast), it is forgiving with prints and provides for a refined appearance.



All About Paper: Paper Weights and Different Paper Types, ExplainedInkable’s 250gsm Coated with Silk Laminate

Silk will get you a good pozzy if you are looking to do refined prints similar to Matte, but with a nice velvety and luxurious feel that would be perfect for special occasion invitations, premium postcards, and marketing cards. Ultra silky, its unique tactile property makes it stand out as one of the more elegant coatings.





• “gsm” stands for “grams per square meter”. The higher the value, the heavier and generally, the thicker the paper. Thinner paper is best used for inexpensive handouts such as coupons and event stubs, while thicker paper is substantial for invitations, premium business cards, and presentation folders.


• Paper can either be coated or uncoated, and this is a big factor that determines the final look, feel, and utility of your printed piece.


• Uncoated paper has a rough and more fibrous surface that soaks up ink and does not deliver sharp full colour prints as well. However, uncoated paper is easy to write on, more inexpensive, and can give a natural feel suitable for some businesses and product lines.


• Coated paper is paper treated with a clay compound. Coatings make the paper surface smoother for better printability, help ink stay on top of the paper without seeping into the paper fibers for sharper detail, and make paper more hardy against scuffing.


• Coatings change the way colours are reproduced in photos and text. Gloss coating reflects a lot of light and gives vibrant photo and art prints with sharp detail. Matte coating is great for text as it eradicates the glare that comes with choosing Gloss coating but does not reproduce colours as well. Silk coating is semi-gloss and is velvety to the touch. It reaches a compromise between Gloss and Matte as it displays a colour range close to that of Gloss, while reducing glare and ink scuffing.



We hope this lesson has helped erase that crease between your eyebrows when you try to think about “gsm”, coated or uncoated paper decisions, and which specific type of coating to go for.


Hooroo for now!


Ink splat,




P.S. In Part 2 of Inkable Paper 101, expect:


1. A really nice and handy guide to standard paper sizes which you can bookmark and use as a future reference;

2. A clear rundown of different paper finishes and when to use them so that your printed materials match your desired overall look, and stand out as nifty pieces that people will read and remember.