Paper Coating and Print Colour

You can easily tell uncoated paper from coated by looking at it. Uncoated paper will have a matte appearance and will have a bit of a rough feel to it. Coated paper will have a shimmer to its appearance and a smooth and slightly waxy feel. The differences between the two types of paper also make a significant difference to the way images and colour will appear once printed.

How Uncoated Paper Behaves with Ink

Uncoated paper is absorbent by nature. Therefore, any ink applied to this kind of paper will soak into it. When this happens, the dot gain effect occurs. Dot gain is referred to as a phenomenon whereby printed material looks darker than originally intended.

Dot gain can be identified by looking closely at a printed image or text. If the dots which make up the image or text appear fuzzy or smudged, then dot gain has occurred. Looking at the entire printed image or text, dot gain will affect the overall appearance by making it look less detailed than it should be.

It is not the colour, but the type of paper which causes dot gain to occur. However, the dot gain phenomenon can affect how printed colours look.

Why Paper Coating is Important

Paper coating becomes an important thing to consider when you need your printed items to have uniformity. For example, if you have a company logo, it is a representation of your brand. Everything about how a logo looks, from the fonts used to its colours and images, sends a message about your brand. For that message to be consistent, all of the elements of your logo must look the same on everything it’s placed on.

Coated paper is like a pane of glass; ink applied to its surface will tend to remain nearer to the surface. That will cause the final printed result to appear far more vibrant than that printed on uncoated paper, which is like a sponge, causing printed colours to be far less vibrant and duller.

Because the printed colour on uncoated paper can look far different from that printed on coated paper, some thought needs to be put into what kind of paper you are using. Your business cards may have a glossy finish, but if your stationery does not, this could cause a break in the visual uniformity of your logo.

Ways to Circumvent Colour Issues

One way that colour issues can be avoided is to add contrast to the image or text being printed. However, doing so can also negatively affect the outcome, and should be applied with caution.

Another way to avoid colour issues is to print several test images to ensure that colour levels are where they should be.

Finally, one reliable method is to choose Pantone brand colours. These colours are the standard reference for the print industry, allowing for an exact colour to be produced when an item is printed. However, caution needs to be taken here as well, because two types of Pantone colour exist: 185U for uncoated paper and 185C for coated paper.

What to Consider Before You Print

The paper types that your materials will be printed on should be as close to one another as possible regarding appearance and paper type. Otherwise, you may spend money on a large print job, only to find that each printed item appears to have been printed using completely different colours, even though this may not have been the case at all.

The best advice is to take lots of time to research the materials you plan to have your logo printed on. As well, speaking with your printing company is another good way to ensure that colours remain uniform across all of your printed materials.

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