Paper Terminology – Your Guide to Web Offset Printing Paper

When it comes to web offset printing, paper comes in a variety of styles and finishes.  To get the most out of your printing projects, you need to know the basics about paper. Read on to learn about the different types of paper used in web offset printing and how they are best used.

Felt Side: This refers to the side of paper that was face down on the wire screen during the papermaking process. The felt side is rougher than the smooth side, and it prints differently.

Gloss: Gloss is a class of paper that is smooth and shiny. High-gloss paper is most commonly seen in magazines and catalogs.  Because it is so smooth and shiny, gloss paper needs run through an oven to set the ink.

Matte: Matte is a class of paper that has very minimal coating which leaves it with very little or no shine. The least shiny of all finished papers, matte paper is completely glare-free. Because it is not glossy, matte paper can go through a traditional coldset process after it is printed.

Paper Grade: Paper grade refers to the quality of paper as determined by its ingredients and the way that it was manufactured.  Every single piece of paper fits into a specific paper grade. 

Paper Grain: Paper grain refers to the way fibers line up during the paper manufacturing process. Paper grain can run either horizontally or vertically.  It is easier to fold, tear, or bend paper along the grains instead of against them.

Satin: Satin is a class of paper that has some shine to it. Satin paper is duller than a gloss finish, but shinier than a matte finish.

Uncoated Paper: Uncoated paper is a class of paper that has no coating whatsoever.  It is the only paper that is duller than matte paper.  Because it has no finish to it, the ink is absorbed into the paper so an oven is not required.

Vellum: Vellum is a very rough type of paper that has an uncoated finish.

Web: A web refers to long rolls of paper that are used to print continuously.  Web rolls can weigh over 2,000 pounds and stretch out to 2 miles long!  Web paper is what makes web offset printing different from sheet fed offset printing.