Papir Selection

Select the right paper type the first time

By: Contigo Print Group
May 9, 2018

There is a big difference between the physical expression of print media and a digital screen. The difference lies, among other things, in material quality, focus, overview and other sensory features that can be difficult to define. There is therefore also a big difference between browsing through a catalogue or magazine and scrolling through content on a tablet. Print media can be saved and returned to, while life online is lived more in glimpses where you quickly move on to something else. Immersion belongs more to the realm of print media.

When we at Contigo speak in favour of print media, it doesn’t mean that we don’t see the advantages of technological and digital options. We are simply of the belief that both media, print as well as digital, each have their own strengths – the value therefore lies in the interaction between print and digital solutions.

Paper contributes to graphic expression being conveyed correctly. Choosing the right paper is thus about honouring multiple requirements and preferences: weight, environment, surface, transparency, recycling, smoothness, absorbency, etc. Today you can print almost all kinds of paper in offset. Some paper grades and weights are best suited for rotary printing, while others are better suited for sheet printing.

Communicating reason and feelings

The properties of paper can be summed up by the concept of runnability. Runnability encompasses a paper’s stiffness, flatness and dimensional stability. Particularly in the case of rotary printing and finishing/bookbinding, there is a focus on a paper’s tensile strength, tear strength and folding strength. Other properties are more important in relation to printing. These properties can be summarised in the concept of printability and include, among other things, surface strength, smoothness, pH values and absorbency.

With slightly larger runs, it may be a good idea to limit the number of paper types. Small orders often mean higher purchase prices, possible waiting time for deliveries and the risk of residues. Generally, Contigo buys in bulk in order to streamline the production process and ensure competitive prices. We offer selected “Contigo qualities”, which cover the most common orders and meet customers’ cost and quality requirements.

And let’s just correct a misconception about “weight balance”: Thick paper doesn’t have to weigh more than thin paper. There are several “strong” types of paper that don’t weigh more because they have a porous composition and the fibres are tightly packed. The right paper selection is thus always a balance between price, quality, style and tone, aesthetics, image reproduction, illustrations and readability.

  • Do you know the paper type?

    When it comes to image processing, it’s always important to choose precisely the colour profile that suits the paper selection. Four main types of paper can be chosen: matte-coated and glossy as well as uncoated and extra absorbent uncoated – also called offset. Glossy paper has a colour saturation of almost 400%. This means that this paper type absorbs the least colour, whereas offset paper has a colour saturation below 280%. In between these two types of paper, matte-coated paper is available, which has a colour saturation of about 300%, which also applies to good quality uncoated paper. These two types of paper thus absorb slightly more colour than glossy paper but less than offset paper.


  • Seven good guidelines

    –  Don’t always go for the whitest paper. It can be tiring and somewhat clinical to look at.

    – Glossy paper may not be the best choice if it means there’s a reflection that reduces readability.

    –  A paper sample/dummy says much more than the technical specifications. How does the print medium look at first glance? Is it pleasant to flick through the pages of, or…? What is the overall impression? Because there are only a few seconds to win over the recipient at first glance.

    –  Matte-coated paper requires ample time for drying and finishing. Otherwise, there’s a risk of unpleasant smearing. Please note: matte-coated paper is also sensitive to scratches.

    –  Paper selection for printing with gold or silver colour, fluorescent colours, Reflex Blue and other difficult colours requires extra attention. The finest print is available on glossy and heavily coated paper, but at the same time powder drying and smearing can occur.

    –  The varnish effect depends on paper quality. Even a high gloss varnish doesn’t provide high gloss on matte and absorbent paper.

    – Think green. Select eco-labelled paper or recycled paper, if possible.