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Paper Type For Printing: Glossy vs Matte Paper

Time: 2024-02-16 Hits: 163

Today, we’ll delve into the world of glossy and matte paper, discussing their pros, cons, and best uses. Whether you’re printing a photo, a book, or a simple document, understanding the nuances of these paper types can be a game-changer.

As someone who’s been in the printing industry for a while, I’ve had countless debates with clients about the best type of paper for their printing needs. One of the most common topics of discussion is the choice between glossy and matte paper. Both have their unique characteristics and applications, and the choice often boils down to personal preference and the purpose of the print. In this article, I will share my insights on glossy and matte paper, their pros and cons, and the circumstances that best suit each type.

What’s Glossy Paper?

Glossy paper for printing is a high-quality paper known for its shiny and lustrous finish. Its surface is coated with a layer that gives it a reflective quality, making colors appear vibrant and images sharp. This quality makes glossy paper a favorite for photo printing.

The coating on glossy paper is made up of compounds that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. It could be a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate, or it could be a synthetic polymer. This coating is applied to the paper during the manufacturing process, resulting in a smooth, shiny finish.

Glossy paper is available in different weights and sizes, catering to various printing needs. Whether you’re printing a magazine, a brochure, or a photo album, glossy paper adds a professional touch to your final product.

glossy paper for printing

The Pros and Cons of Glossy Paper

Like any material, glossy paper has its advantages and disadvantages.


The glossy finish of glossy paper for printing offers a high-quality look and feel. The vibrant colors and sharp images that glossy paper produces are second to none. It’s especially great for printing photos, as it brings out the details and colors of the image.

Another advantage of glossy paper is its smooth surface, which allows for a high level of detail in printed images. Fine lines and small text are clearer and more readable on glossy paper. This makes it the ideal choice for printing complex graphics, detailed photographs, and small print materials.

Glossy paper is also resistant to smudging and fingerprints, thanks to its coated surface. This makes it a great choice for documents that will be handled often. Additionally, the coating provides a certain level of protection against moisture and dust, extending the lifespan of your printed materials.


Despite its many advantages, glossy paper for printing does have some drawbacks. The reflective surface can cause glare, making it difficult to view the printed material under bright light. The high-quality finish also makes glossy paper more expensive than other paper types.

Glossy paper is usually more expensive than other types of paper. The coating process that gives the paper its shiny finish also increases its production cost. This additional cost is then passed on to the consumer.

What’s Matte Paper?

Matte paper, on the other hand, has a dull and non-reflective finish. Unlike glossy paper, matte paper absorbs more ink, which results in a softer and less vibrant appearance. However, this doesn’t mean that matte paper produces inferior prints. In fact, many people prefer the subtle and sophisticated look of matte prints.

The surface of matte paper is typically uncoated or coated with a very thin layer of ink-absorbent material. This allows the ink to sink into the paper, reducing shine and reflectivity. Like glossy paper, matte paper is available in a range of weights and sizes, making it versatile for various printing needs.

Matte paper for printing photos is a popular choice for black and white images, as well as color photos that have a softer, more subdued aesthetic. It’s also an excellent choice for text-heavy documents, as the non-reflective surface reduces eye strain. Matte paper is versatile and can be used for a wide range of printing applications, from business cards to wedding invitations.

Matte paper for printing

The Pros and Cons of Matte Paper

Matte paper also has its pros and cons.


One of the main advantages of matte paper for printing is its non-reflective surface. This eliminates glare, making the printed material easier to view under different lighting conditions. This is particularly beneficial for prints that will be viewed under bright light or from different angles.

Matte paper for printing offers a unique aesthetic that many people find appealing. The lack of shine and reflectivity gives printed materials a sophisticated and elegant look. It’s especially great for black and white photos, as it enhances the depth and detail of the image.

Another benefit of matte paper is its resistance to fingerprints and smudges. Unlike glossy paper, matte paper does not show fingerprints and smudges as easily. This makes it a good choice for prints that will be handled frequently.


While matte paper has its benefits, it also has some downsides. The main disadvantage of matte paper is that it does not produce colors as vibrantly as glossy paper. This can lead to duller images, especially when printing high-resolution photos.

Lastly, like glossy paper, matte paper can also be more expensive than other types of paper. The special treatment that gives the paper its matte finish can add to its production cost.

The Difference Between Glossy and Matte Paper

The main difference between glossy and matte paper lies in their finish. Glossy paper has a shiny finish that reflects light, making the colors appear more vibrant and the images sharper. Matte paper, on the other hand, has a dull finish that absorbs light, resulting in a softer and more natural look.

Another noteworthy difference is their resistance to fingerprints and smudges. Glossy paper tends to show fingerprints and smudges more easily, while matte paper is more resistant to them.

In terms of cost, both glossy and matte paper are generally more expensive than regular paper due to the special treatments they undergo to achieve their respective finishes.

When Should You Use Glossy Paper?

Glossy paper for photo printing is particularly popular among photographers and graphic designers. The glossy finish enhances the colors and sharpness of the photographs, making them appear clearer and more vibrant. This is why most photo labs use glossy paper for printing photos.

Nevertheless, glossy paper is not limited to photo printing. Many professionals use glossy paper for book printing as well. This is especially prevalent in the production of coffee table books, children’s picture books, catalogs, and magazines where image quality is paramount. The glossy finish brings out the colors and details in the images, making the illustrations pop out from the page.

However, due to its reflective surface, it’s not the best choice for materials that will be viewed under bright light or outdoors. Also, remember that glossy paper is more expensive and prone to scratching, so it’s best used for prints that will be handled carefully.

When Should You Use Matte Paper?

Matte paper for printing photos is favored by photographers who prefer a softer and more subdued look. The lack of gloss allows for a more accurate representation of colors and tones. It also gives the photos a more textured feel, which can add depth and dimension to the images.

Aside from photo printing, matte finish paper is also used in book production. It’s an excellent choice for art books, graphic novels, textbooks, and other types of books where text readability is crucial. The non-reflective surface reduces glare, making it easier to read the text even under bright light.

However, keep in mind that matte paper does not produce colors as vibrantly as glossy paper. Also, it’s more susceptible to damage from moisture and dust, so proper storage is crucial.

Glossy vs Matte Paper: Which is Better?

glossy vs matte

The question of whether glossy or matte paper is better is subjective. It depends on the purpose of your printed material and your personal preference.

If you’re printing photos and want vibrant colors and sharp details, glossy paper is the way to go. If you’re printing a document or want a sophisticated look for your black and white photos, matte paper is a great choice.

In conclusion, the choice between glossy and matte paper for printing depends on the purpose of the print, the viewing conditions, and your personal aesthetic preferences. Both types have their strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision. So, the next time you’re planning a printing project, consider the characteristics of glossy and matte paper and choose the one that best suits your needs.

At BookPrintingChina, we provide both glossy and matte paper for custom printing. Besides, we also offer other paper options(like uncoated paper, special paper, etc) based on your printing requirement. Contact us today, let us help you make the best choice for your printing needs.

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