Choices in Uncoated Offset
 
Many of the printed pieces you see are printed on uncoated paper. Uncoated paper is any type of paper that does not have a glossy or matte coated finish. As paper is approximately 25% of the total cost of a project, choosing the paper to meet your objective and budget is an important consideration.

Cost is the most common reason people choose uncoated papers over coated papers. Coated papers are more expensive than uncoated papers.

Uncoated papers are frequently used for newsletters, price lists, books, directories, flyers, manuals and some brochures and catalogs. Uncoated papers provide excellent value in printed pieces. Pieces printed on uncoated sheets are easier to read than those on glossy paper.

Commodity Offset
This type of paper refers to inexpensive uncoated sheets. Popular good quality brands are Husky, Springhill, Scott and Williamsburg. These are very common, utilitarian papers. Commodity offset grades can be suitable for use on price lists, directories, books, manuals and flyers. Anytime you want to produce a piece that looks good at a reasonable cost, turn to uncoated offsets.

You can think of this class of papers as similar to "copier paper." However, unlike "copier paper," uncoated offset comes in various weights (which translates to thickness) that can dramatically enhance the feeling of substance in the final printed piece. They are usually produced in 50#, 60# and 70# weights.

The lightest weight, 50#, is good for bound, multi-page pieces such as price lists, directories and catalogs where low cost is important. The next weight, 60#, adds durability, bulk and opacity from an increased thickness. If you are looking for a good all around sheet, 60# offset is the paper of choice. Brochures or flyers can benefit from the added weight of 70# where longevity, thickness and substance are desired.

Inexpensive uncoated papers are sometimes produced in a choice of pastel colors. More expensive uncoated papers usually have pastel and more vibrant colors available.

Opaque Offset
Chemical whiteners and brighteners are added to commodity offsets to yield opaque papers. These papers are more expensive than commodity offsets but offer a more impressive appearance. Popular brand names are Cougar, Finch, Hammermill, Nekoosa, Torchglow and Accent.

Common uses for these papers are books, newsletters, brochures or flyers when you want to put your best foot forward. Typically opaques are used if the piece will be sent to customers or prospects and you want to project a slightly more refined image.

As the name implies, opaque papers have less "see through" than commodity offsets of similar weight. "See through" describes as how well you can see type and graphics printed on the other side of the sheet. If your piece will utilize large solid areas of ink or photos, think about using an opaque sheet.

Some opaque offset brands offer colors which are usually more varied than the colors offered in commodity offset lines. Opaque grades almost always have accompanying cover weights of 65# or 80#.

Reply Card Stock
This is a special type of paper used to meet postal regulations for thickness. Common uses of this paper is for postcards, single sheet direct mail pieces and any brochure with a tear out return reply card portion.

Any piece of mail less than .007 inches in thickness does not meet postal guidelines and therefore may not reach it's destination. Reply card stock is manufactured to be a minimum of .007 inches thick by adding bulk in the form of more loosely packed wood fibers. As a comparison, regular 60# offset has a thickness of .0047 inches. Reply card papers usually have a vellum ("toothier") finish which also increases bulk.

In general, reply card stocks are not considered as nice as other uncoated sheets. The added bulk without weight results in a rather flimsy feel for their thickness and the pronounced vellum finish doesn't reproduce images very faithfully. Reply card stocks are produced in commodity and opaque grades but even the opaque varieties should be reserved for mailed cards only.

Vellum Bristol
Often referred to as the "poor man's cover", this type of paper is relatively thick and comes in colors. This is what you might remember as "construction paper" from your youth. The paper is not as commonly used today because it has an inexpensive feel and doesn't reproduce images as well as other cover stocks.

Index
This grade of paper actually is quite versatile. Index stock is relatively thick, comes in white and the basic pastel colors and has a very smooth finish. However, the whites are not as white and bright as opaque papers. Index papers are suitable for inexpensive covers and reply cards (some weights meet postal regulations). Ink sits up well on the very smooth finish and therefore will reproduce images faithfully. Of course, die cut index tabs are usually printed on this type of paper, as the name suggests.

Specialty and Embossed Finished Papers
Often referred to as text papers, these expensive sheets have embossed finishes such as linen, laid, felt and groove. Embossed sheets are used when the feeling of opulence is required. Suggested uses are brochures, covers for high end pieces or direct mail projects for expensive products or services. In reality, most of these papers are a little dated and are not used as much as they were 5 years ago. Other papers have come to take their place in popularity.

 
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