Paper Matters

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Have you ever considered how ink “sits” on various types of printed paper? It can make a vast difference when designing for print.

I recently styled an ad for a client to be placed in a local Pennysaver. When I passed it off to a writer colleague, her first comment was that the photographs seemed a little brighter than usual. I immediately knew paper would be this month’s topic. I explained that newsprint “soaks up” the ink more than other types of paper. I had brightened or opened up the photos so they’d reproduce well, i.e., not lose detail or print too darkly.

There is a very big difference between printing on newsprint as compared to a coated (glossy) stock. In general, uncoated papers absorb more ink than coated. With coated paper, the ink sits on top, giving it a super sharp look.

If you are placing an ad in multiple magazines and newspapers – even if the size is the same – you may want to have the ad versioned so that it prints the best it can for various media. Look for brightened photos specific to newsprint as mentioned above. If you want a digital ad ask for a separate web version.

The look of your colors can vary on paper too. That is why the Pantone color book shows the ink on coated (glossy) as well as uncoated (matte) stock. Your designer should also consider subtle changes in the color of white paper on a print job. For example, some whites have a blue cast and others have a creamier appearance. This might not matter in a nature scene, or for stationery but could be a concern for a fashion shot where the skin tones look off.

If you’re confused by all the paper choices, know your strategy before printing to help narrow it down. For example, are you printing a quick flyer that will be discarded after an event, or is it something more substantial that your donor or patron will hold onto? The quick flyer you can get away with using 60lb offset and it’s budget friendly, but for an important package or substantial brochure I would request paper samples from your printer. They can work with your budget. Sometimes changing the size of a package slightly will save money and it can be used for a nicer stock.

These are just some of the things to consider when working in print. If you have any questions contact me, I’d be happy to discuss.


Hi, I’m Jeanine, I produce attention-grabbing designs for non-profits that resonate with your donors. Whether you need a direct mail appeal package or collateral materials for a virtual event or gala, my personalized service helps solve your design challenges. Contact me to discuss your next design project.

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