Printing & Finishes
Depending on the paper and finish you choose, the printed outcome will vary. If you are using high resolution graphics or photos then it would be advisable to use a gloss paper, wheres if your document is text heavy you might prefer a matte paper to improve the readability. It is important to consider these options when it comes to your project.
There is an array of different printing techniques in existence, from Letterpress and lino cutting to screen printing and thermography. Offset lithography is the industry standard technique for large quantities, whereas digital printing is used for smaller jobs – (what you use at home).
It is mostly the varnish or finish of your paper that will affect the printing. A gloss finish will brighten the colours and lift high quality photography, whereas a matte finish or uncoated paper will allow the ink to absorb into the paper and create a more muted image, which might be desirable, such as in portrait photography or text heavy documents, depending on your intentions.
In books, it is possible to combine different paper stock and finishes, to create an interesting style and add a tactile quality. This is common in art and coffee table books, to give a distinguished feel to the reader. It can also be used to create indexing or chapter divides by using a heavier stock to help the readability or quick access.
Depending on the binding type of the book, this can increase the cost. In perfect binding and ring bound books it is easier to use different paper stocks as each page is a single sheet. It is important to remember though that there are two sides to a page, and the contents on the reverse of the page will be printed on the same paper stock. For other types of binding, it can still be done but as it will be a more complex process, it will be likely to increase the cost.
Varnish is a coating over a paper, also known as a type of finish, either before the printing process or after. It protects the page and also adds effect to appearance. These are available in either Gloss, Silk or Matte finishes. Spot UV is also a technique used to add an effect to a page when it is not desired to cover the page in a single finish. This can be used to achieve gloss matte or silk and other tactile textures such as sandpaper.
On card or paper covers for notebooks, it is possible to have a coating. These are called laminates and are produced in gloss, matte or silk/soft touch finishes.
A gloss varnish is great for photography, an ultra heavy gloss will bring out the colours, the paper will not soak in as much ink as an uncoated paper and so will produce a rich output. Often used in brochures, it reflects back light and helps increase the sharpness and saturation.
A silk finish is a good halfway between matte and gloss. It is a light gloss which makes it good for photography without as much of the shine.
A matte finish is a light coating, meaning that the paper will absorb a lot of the ink. It helps to diffuse light and is great for text heavy documents to improve legibility. It produces a smooth finish and muted colours, ideal for portrait photography.
A paper that has little to no coating. Printing on uncoated paper is a basic cheaper option and will provide average colour for images and photography, and is sufficient for text heavy documents. The less glossy the pages, the more easier it is to read large segments of text.