Picking the Perfect Paper

You've created the perfect design for that brochure, newsletter, postcard, or getting the-band-back-together-because-we're-on-a-mission-from-God announcement. Great. Now, it's time to select the right paper to complete the package. Paper selection is a very important element in printed projects; it affects both the cost and visual appeal of the piece you're creating.

In addition to choosing a specific weight, opacity, and brightness, the finish of your paper plays a big role in the overall appearance and feel of your printed product. Here's a quick rundown of common finishes and how each effect is achieved:

  • A smooth finish results from paper passing through sets of rollers during the paper making process.
  • Bond paper is a relatively high-grade paper stock with a rag content ranging from 25 percent to 100 percent.
  • Vellum has a subtle roughness.
  • An embossed finish provides a moulded appearance on the paper's surface.
  • A linen finish resembles linen cloth. (Imagine that.)
  • Cockle is a texture similar to homemade paper.
  • Metallic paper is coated with a thin film containing metal or plastic whose colour and gloss simulate metal.
  • Coated paper has a coating applied to give the sheet a better appearance.
  • Cast coated results in an exceptionally glossy coated finish, usually only on one side.

Now that you know a bit about finishes, let's use that knowledge to help you pick the perfect paper for your project. (Try saying that five times fast.) These selections are sure to please, no matter how divine or ordinary your mission may be..

Paper Type



Type of Project


Comes in a range of pastels, neutrals, matching envelopes, and matching cover weights

Smooth, cockle

Fliers (like that mission-critical announcement), forms, copies

Writing paper

Comes in a range of colours and flocking options that match envelopes, plus cover and text weights

Smooth, linen, vellum, cockle, etc.


Uncoated book

Comes in a range of colours and is thicker and more opaque than bond or writing papers


Direct mail, newsletters, catalogs


Comes in a range of colours and flocking options that match envelopes, plus cover and text weights

Smooth, linen, vellum, cockle, etc.

Letterhead, annual reports, brochures

Coated book

Matching cover weights limited to cream and white, although specialty lines exist in a range of colours

Dull, gloss, matte, cast-coated

Magazines, catalogs, direct mail


Heavier and more durable counter-part to coordinate with text, book, and writing papers

Smooth, linen, vellum, gloss, matte

Business cards, report covers, brochures, tickets, postcards, pocket folders, greeting cards


Comes in a range of colours and finishes

Coated, vellum, smooth

Postcards, file folders, tickets

Translucent vellum

Semitransparent stock comes in a range of colours and weights plus matching envelopes

Smooth, grooved

See through envelopes and overlays


Inexpensive, light-weight, white/manila only


Newspapers, tabloids


Comes in gummed, pressure sensitive, and self-adhesive backing and in a range of colours

Smooth (uncoated), matte, glossy, cast coated

Labels, stickers