Choosing the right paper for your print projects

How to Choose the Right Paper and Finishes for Your Print Project

Brian Kroeker

January 26, 2023


  • The design for your print project is important, but so are the materials. Little Rock Printing™ offers a great selection of different materials for various print products.
  • Generally, coated paper is best for designs with sharp text and bold colours, whereas uncoated paper is ideal for a more organic or rustic look, or for products that need to be written on.
  • Thicker materials tend to last longer and have a more premium feel, but they’re also more expensive and aren’t practical for every application (for example, you wouldn’t use cardstock to print pages in a booklet).
  • Staying within your budget and considering your design will help you narrow down your options—but some of the best ways to find the right paper and finish is by looking through our online paper library or ordering a free sample kit, which Little Rock Printing™ can send directly to your doorstep.
  • Get a free proof of your design on any paper type we sell to see how it will look in a larger run. Just order a single copy and use the code FREEPROOF at checkout. For best results, cross reference your sample with the other options in our sample kit to make sure you picked the best option.

See also: Coated Vs. Non-Coated Paper: What’s The Difference?

Little Rock Printing™ provides an awesome selection of different paper types, finishes, and weights, but choosing the right ones to print your design on can be a challenge. That’s why we created this guide, which includes a comparison chart of our most popular materials and a checklist you can use to make the right choice for all your print marketing essentials.

Comparison Chart for Different Paper Types

At Little Rock Printing™, we know different paper types work best for different projects—so we’ve given you options! You’ll find recommendations for the best materials to use on each different product page—but here’s how our most popular options compare at a glance:

Note: “X” indicates a paper type that can be used with the corresponding product.

BookletsDocument PrintingDocument Printing (Covers)Perfect Bound BooksArt PrintsBrochuresBusiness CardsFlyersGreeting CardsHang TagsNotepadsPostcards
60# Uncoated TextXXXX
70# Uncoated TextXXXXX
100# Uncoated TextXXXXXX
80# TextXX
100# TextXXXX
13PT Uncoated CoverXXXXXXXXXXX
16PT Uncoated CoverXXXXX
18PT Kraft CoverXXX
22PT Uncoated CoverXXX

Coated vs. Uncoated Paper Types

Looking at the chart above, you’ll notice that some of our paper and cover options are coated while others aren’t. Here’s the difference:

  • Coated paper has a thin layer of material applied to the surface to make it smoother and more glossy. This can result in sharper, more vibrant colours and sharper text when printed on.
  • Uncoated paper does not have this coating and therefore has a more natural, matte finish. This can result in a more rustic or organic appearance. Uncoated paper is also generally easier to write on. However, solid black backgrounds generally don’t look great on this type of paper, so we recommend coated options instead if your design has a lot of black in it.

If you can’t choose between coated or uncoated paper, we recommend ordering a sample of your design on each and comparing the two when they arrive.

Different paper stock options on white background

Via Adobe Stock.

Paper & Cover Thickness

Thicker paper or covers result in higher-quality and more durable products. That’s why you’ll tend to see thicker materials used for premium products—like high-end booklet covers, business cards, art prints, and hang tags.

Thick materials aren’t always practical, though—for example, while you might use thick cardstock for the cover of a booklet, you’d never use it for the inside pages, which need to be easy to handle and turn.

Blank business cards on cardstock

Little Rock Printing™’s Checklist for Choosing the Right Print Materials

Order a Free Paper Sample Kit

Consider Your Design & Its Purpose

  • Evaluate the color scheme of your design; opt for coated paper for vivid colours and designs heavy with black.
  • Determine the intended use and longevity of the print:
    • Choose thicker materials for a premium feel and durability.
    • For economical and disposable items, consider lighter options like 70# Uncoated Paper.

Work Within Your Budget

  • Assess the cost differences between higher and lower quality print materials.
  • Experiment with different options to see how they alter the price.
  • Review the total cost estimate before finalizing your order.

Request a Free Proof of Your Print Project

  • Order a free proof of your design on your chosen paper type using code FREEPROOF.
  • Cross-reference the proof with the sample kit to ensure satisfaction with the material and finish.
  • Review the single copy to visualize how the final bulk order will appear.

By following these steps, you can select print materials that align with your budget, design goals, and project requirements.

Questions about Choosing Paper or Finish Options? Ask Us!

As a local Calgary print shop where we do every job ourselves, we’re involved at every level of our business—including customer service. That means we’re here to help answer any questions you have about choosing the right paper type or finish for your upcoming project.

Contact Little Rock Printing™ now to speak with one of our experienced team members, or browse the FAQs below. With our help, getting your perfect print will be easier than ever.

Frequently Asked Questions about Choosing Paper for Printing

What is the difference between coated and uncoated paper?

Coated paper has a smooth, glossy surface, enhancing vibrancy and sharpness in colours and text. Uncoated paper, with its natural, matte finish, is ideal for a rustic look and is easier to write on.

How do I decide between thicker and thinner paper materials?

Thicker materials give a premium feel and are more durable but are also more expensive. Consider the purpose of your print project—for instance, booklets should have thicker covers but thinner inside pages for practicality.

Can I see how the final print will look before placing a bulk order?

Yes, you can order a free proof of your design on any paper type using the code FREEPROOF at checkout. This allows you to see how your design will look in a larger run.

Is there any way to physically feel and compare paper types before deciding?

Absolutely! Little Rock Printing™ offers free paper sample kits that contain samples of every material we have available, shipped directly to your doorstep for your convenience.

How do I stay within my budget while choosing the right paper?

Little Rock Printing™ provides cost estimates before you place an order. You can see these on our individual product pages, which enables you to experiment with different options and assess their impact on the price.

Can I get help choosing the right paper and finish for my project?

Of course! Little Rock Printing™ has experienced team members available to answer any questions you have and assist you with making the right choice for your print project.

Do you offer any templates for designing print projects?

Yes, we provide a gallery of free Canva templates to help you easily design your print projects.

What if my design has a lot of black? Which paper is recommended?

For designs with substantial black, coated paper options are recommended as solid black backgrounds don’t typically present well on uncoated paper.

If I’m local to Calgary, can I visit Little Rock Printing™ for assistance?

Yes, as a local Calgary print shop, Little Rock Printing™ encourages customers to visit and is fully equipped to assist you at every level, including choosing the right paper and finish.

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