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Paper. It not only carries your message, it plays a key role in your reader’s impression and connection to your magazine. From its look, to its feel, to the impact it has on image reproduction, paper speaks to your readers in ways that matter.

CylindersIn days of old, almost all publications ran on a coated gloss paper. Today, matte papers have made their way into the mainstream, presenting an attractive alternative and unique look. Almost all papers, from premiums through grade #5, are offered in both a gloss and matte finish and, generally speaking, the cost is the same.

What creates the difference?

Gloss papers have been put through a supercalender, a series of steel and cotton rolls, which compresses the surface of the paper to make it smoother. The upside? The compressed surface reflects the light more directly, providing an eye-catching glossy finish and great ink hold-up, while the smoother surface enhances crisp image reproduction. The downside? Compressing the sheet reduces its opacity (increasing show-through) and bulk (making the paper feel “flimsier”).

Matte papers are generally lightly calendered, to help improve ink-hold up, but lack the compression of the gloss sheet. With its “toothier” finish, light is refracted off the matte paper’s surface, resulting in a softer, less glossy appearance, and a more open, porous surface. The upside? Better opacity, higher bulk and less glare, so easier to read. The downside? Less ink hold-up and a rougher surface, resulting in images that are not quite as crisp and bold. For publications with a low page count, the matte finish has the advantage of creating a more substantial feel and greater bulk, despite fewer pages.

How do a Gloss and Matte Paper Compare?

Standard #2 Gloss Same #2 in a Matte Finish
Brightness: 90 90
Opacity: 91.5 92.5
PPI (pages per inch): 715 558


A paper’s finish can be an important part of a publication’s design element, and helps to convey a message about the content and tone of the publication before the message itself is ever read.

At Sheridan, we are happy to help you pick the right paper for your publication, and we have a library full of samples to share. Just give us a call.