Understanding Paper Finishes on Printed Documents

The finish of a paper doesn’t have anything to do with the paper’s weight, just the surface texture. Below are some of the more common types of paper finishes.

WOVE, SMOOTH, BOND, VELLUM – Reasonably smooth to the touch with subtle differences

Paper with a WOVE finish is one of the most common papers used for general printing. Wove finish is a standard smooth even finish. SMOOTH finish is a finish that has been made very smooth and level from the paper passing through sets of rollers during the papermaking process. BOND paper is a relatively high-grade paper stock generally used for letters, business forms, and copying. Some types of bond paper may have a rag content ranging from 25 percent to 100 percent. VELLUM is a very common finish for all purpose papers. It will appear smooth to the untrained eye, although the paper has a subtle roughness (tooth) which separates it from smooth.

EMBOSSED, LINEN, LAID, FELT – Textured visually and to the touch.

EMBOSSED finish is a molded appearance onto the paper sheet. The appearance of the emboss may cause the paper to be defined by the way it looks, such as the following paper finishes (linen, laid, felt, etc.). UNEN is a paper finish that resembles linen cloth which is usually produced after the papermaking process as an offline embossing process. LAID is a finish has the appearance of fine lines running the length of the paper. It is produced during the papermaking process with a special roller that creates the pattern in the wet paper. And FELT resembles felt.

PARCHMENT, COCKLE – Antique appearance

PARCHMENT is a paper finish that has an old or antique appearance. COCKLE is a finish that simulates characteristics of hand made paper. The effect is obtained by air drying the paper under minimum tension.

METALLIC, COATED, CAST COATED – Commonly achieved by a coating process

METALLIC Paper is coated with a thin film containing metal or a thin film of plastic whose color and gloss simulate metal. COATED is paper that has had a coating applied to give the sheet a better appearance. The coating can be applied to one side or both sides. CAST COATED is paper or board with a coating that is allowed to harden while in contact a highly polished chrome surface. This results in an exceptionally glossy coated finish, usually only on one side.

TRANSLUCENT – See through paper

TRANSLUCENT is a thin paper that does not have the same clarity as acetate, but can be used as an overlay allowing any content placed immediately beneath it to be viewed through it with some lack of clarity (semi¬transparent). Translucent is not technically a finish, and ‘vellum’ and ‘translucent’ are different. Translucent paper may have a vellum finish, although so do many opaque (can’t see through) papers. This is why you may see it called ‘Translucent Vellum’, because vellum is the paper’s finish.