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Article: The Difference Between Matte And Glossy Paper

The Difference Between Matte And Glossy Paper

Choosing print material is very important when producing artworks.
Let's find out the difference between matte and glossy paper and which one you should use!
Created by Young Vu |

If you ever pay attention to the paper quality and also type, you will likely find that every type has a pretty apparent difference. It looks very clear when you are considering two dissimilar yet similar options, matte and glossy. The first thing that you notice about the differences is the shininess aspect of the finish. But is it the only difference? No, it is not. 

The two papers have more than just a common alike appearance. It has enough differences that divide the likely uses and also characteristics. In this article, you will find the breakdown of the difference between matte and glossy paper. You will also see how the two media have pros and cons along with the proper usage. Here are the details.  


Matte Paper Characteristic 

1. Best Details

The first thing that you need to know about is how it helps create more artistic printing. The difference in the print is one of the biggest points you can make between matte paper and glossy type. If you are going to print a very detailed picture, matte will be one of your best options. It makes such a great small detailing, which highlights contrast and details. 

The difference also goes far to the ability to absorb ink. The nature of itself is the counterpart of glossy, which has lesser contrast. Due to its ability to absorb ink, matte paper can provide a higher contrast. The grainy feeling to the touch also makes a great difference in the printing quality, which is why people love matte paper. 

2. Instant dry 

The main character goes to its instant drying. It means you can touch the printing after it finishes right away. It makes a very clear difference between matte and glossy paper. If you take the idea of quick-drying as the difference, you will also see how it has the no fingerprint marks effect. 

The effect is one of the most prominent characteristics differences of the two printing media. Photos printed in this media will not leave smudges or fingerprints. It is also a good solution for you who want to avoid oil marks. That is why many photographers or artists tend to choose matte for a higher-quality display or print.

Created by Anna Patlavskaya |


3. No Glare

One of the reasons why people tend to choose it is the glare differences. It does not have a gloss coat, which gives it has no glare effect. But you can also see that matte has that kind of finish due to its lack of coating and almost no sheen. Thus, creating a very flat surface to print. Compared to glossy, the matte paper also has a grainy layer coating. 

The unique coat makes it scatter light and create a matte effect. If you are enjoying a finish that can work under bright light, it is the best option to take. It will minimize any shine or reflection. Another unique difference is the grainy effect. It makes such a unique uniform finish on a smooth surface. 

4. Colors 

The last characteristic that defines a clear difference between matte and glossy paper is the color. As said in the first point, the matte paper helps create details and capture every small color. In other words, it brings out the best finish in terms of the color image. People or designers also called it the true color. 

The natural difference from the glossy also says that it can avoid unneeded color distortion. With the ability to absorb color and the grainy surface, many people use matte to print pastel tones. The distinctive difference appears from the vivid yet dull-styled appearance of the washed-out color.

Created by Anna Patlavskaya |


Matte Paper Cons 

Even though it can help make a pop-up effect for the design print, it also has some contradictions. Matte paper has a very thin coating and almost no protection layer. It causes a high chance of bending and creasing. It is also pretty obvious that the difference between matte and glossy paper makes people have to consider the function. 

If you want high quality and detailed picture, it gives you the best solution. However, it also comes in many different qualities. The difference between the qualities can affect durability. An everlasting finish and project production might plummet quite drastically if you are using a regular matte. The best ones will be the professional ones, which can cost more.  


Glossy Paper Characteristic

1. Coated Surface 

Glossy paper is pretty much the opposite of the matte. You can see that the biggest difference between the two came from its shininess. And the printing media makes up the name. It has a glossy surface due to its coating layer. It makes the sheet shiner compared to the other option. Thus, creating a very vibrant and also effect of pop in color.  

2. Two Intensity Options 

The good things that you can see are the two different glossy options. The option mostly comes with two intensity level options, the high-gloss or the semi-gloss. The difference between the two comes back to the shine intensity. The high gloss offers a very shiny surface, while the semi-gloss is considered as between the high gloss or the matte paper. 

Again, the two gloss options bring up a more bearable difference in the shiny surface. It is because the higher the glossy intensity is, the more reflective the surface will be. Meanwhile, the semi-gloss option is also called matte paper with extra coating. Making it has more benefit of handling the light reflection while still serving a great color contrast. 

3. More Vibrant and Deep Color

If the difference between the two printing media comes from the shine, you can also see it from the color finish. In the case of glossy, you can easily choose the option to make a more vibrant and deep finish. It works the best for heavy color coverage, which includes big graphics and detailed photography. The effect makes the print have higher contrast than the other one. 

Created by My Name Is Will |


Glossy Paper Cons

The difference between matte and glossy paper that also shows the contradiction of this media is the glare. Since the opponent lacks a coating, it has less glare or even no reflection at all. It is a big difference compared to Glossy. It creates too much reflection, which causes your project or print needs to be carefully placed under light. 

It has a thick and shiny coating on its surface. If done or printed without care, the problem of printer jam might happen. It makes most common printers unavailable to print on glossy paper. Around that said problem, you can also find that glossy surface makes it hard to write on. Again, it is based on the type difference. But still, it causes the option to have more limited uses. 


The Key Differences

1. Manufacturing 

There is something unique about the manufacturing point of both matte paper and glossy one. Both of them have different appearances, thicknesses, and also shininess. It is also very apparent that the main differences are the coating. But in the manufacturing session, the duller sheet also has a chemical coating, the same as the glossy. 

So, what is the difference? It indicates that both have a coating layer but with a different purpose. Matte has less coating than the other option. It results in a semi-gloss finish. It also lacks vibrant color but is still high-quality print. It does the opposite with the glossy one since it has a more shiny coating. 

2. Weight And Thickness 

Another unique difference that not many people notice is the weight and thickness. Despite having a lack of coating, matte paper is thicker than a glossy one. The thickness differences are not apparent since both sheets have the same weight. It is also quite a sight since a booklet or product made of glossy media tends to be denser.

Created by StormSlash Studio |


3. The Print Finish 

The biggest difference between matte and glossy paper is the print finish. Many people need to consider what content they want to print since each item has quite dissimilar results. It is also possible to consider that both media have contrasting finishes, which again connect to the content and also the graphic itself. Are you looking for a vibrant or dull color? 

If you pay more attention to the display differences, you will find that the matte has a duller and subtle finish. It makes the graphic look real in the human eyes. Even with the more lusterless color, the finish tends to capture every single little detail. It is something that makes people love using matte paper. 

On the contrary, you will find that glossy paper gives a more vibrant and smooth appearance. The finish can make people see the color enhancement due to its nature to appear shinier. While it does have some glare issues, the effect makes the finished look popped up. Thus, making it a great option for a high-quality modern print. 

4. The Touch And Feel 

A good comparison that is easy to find is the touch and feel. Just like the thickness and the rigidity, you will find that the feel and the quality in touch are the contrasting differences. Due to the lack of coating in the matte paper, you will find a scratchier and more textured surface. But, it does have a pretty smooth surface for printing. 

The surface design and texture make the matte paper fit with its duller finish. It also has a lighter color or washed-out print. Thus, people tend to use the matte to create a more down-to-earth or natural artwork. The difference between matte and glossy paper can also be seen from the implementation. 

The thin yet dense smooth surface makes glossy sheets loved by designers. In many cases, it has a more satisfying feeling to touch than matte. Since it also has a more popped up color and vibrant print, glossy paper is one of the favorite materials for printed promotion tools. The quality is good, thin but dense, making marketing tools such as flyers feel more superior.  

5. Shininess

The shininess is the most apparent difference between the two. The effect happens due to the coating. Since glossy has more coats, it has a shinier surface. It does come with different levels, so you can choose the gloss intensity. The good thing is, the shiny coat also elevates the surface and the printing media protection. 

When it is used, the coat increases the printing media density. It makes the glossy paper hardly scrunched up during the printing process. The difference is very outward when you look at the matte paper. It has a dull, smooth, but slightly textured surface. Due to its nature, matte will not make glare or shine under the light. But, it also makes the sheet very easy to tear or clamped during printing.  

Created by Steven Waring |


The Matte Paper Usages 

Many people consider that matte paper is the more versatile option to take. You literally cannot go wrong when printing graphics or design using this sheet option. However, again you need to be aware of the difference between matte and glossy paper finish. It is because the printing result, the shine, and the texture might affect the final result. 

1. Photo

The first thing that comes to mind about matte paper print is a photo. In many cases, you will find a lot of matte photo sheets being used to print photographs that people will handle. In other words, a portrait for your ID or resume. Even though you can print portrait photos using glossy paper for a more popping color, the matte paper offers an easier-to-handle product. 

One of the reasons is due to its nature of quick-drying and no fingerprint mark or smudges. People, in general, can buy the media and use it on normal printers. If you know people will likely touch your photos, the matte paper will make your print quality over the top. However, it can turn into a pricier option since the sheet is quite expensive. 

2. Printing Low And High-Contrast Image 

If you are trying to print a graphic with a very dense low and high contrast image, the best option is the matte. It plays around a dull color palette and dries up quickly. The sheet absorbs the ink, which makes the contrast detail look clearer. It also indicates a great difference between matte and glossy paper in print quality. 

The best usage of this sheet will be the black and white graphic. Compared to glossy paper, it absorbs more ink. Thus, you can see the sharper effect in the dark tones. The effect makes a difference in terms of color enhancement. If you are going to use this kind of media instead of the glossy, the recommended color is black, brown, grey, or dark green. 

Overall, the difference between glossy and matte is not too many to list anyway. Aside from its shine, you can see that it also works with almost every kind of photo. From the group portrait, landscape, or graphic design, the sheet helps increase every element's visibility. The textured surface also adds a touch of realism to the print. 

3. Text Photos  

Text photos are the most apparent differences. Due to its lack of coating and a more textured surface, the paper will be perfect for writing media. The slight thin coat will not make the sheet too slippery. It also has a flatter and more muted feel, which makes the design very real. Thus, sometimes it will be the best option for a text-based design. 

Created by Backbone Branding |


The Glossy Paper Usages 

If you see how versatile the matte paper is, the glossy ones will look more inferior. However, the difference between matte and glossy paper also appears on higher-quality finishes with the highest clarity. The idea is, the vibrant color and contrast in glossy make the design more pop up. But unfortunately, it creates a glare that you need to consider. 

1. Photos 

Glossy paper is known for its vibrant color and image. With the help of a coating option, you can also make the print look livelier. That is why you can see many photo portraits using glossy media to make a high-end product finish. It is also great to catch some unique color contrast. But again, it needs time to dry, or else it will smudge. 

2. Brochure And Publication 

A glossy finish on the sheet is pretty much the reason why many designers use it. The coating creates a more crisp and clear effect for the design. If you are looking for a non-writing surface, glossy paper is the best option. It also looks more professional, which is why brochures and publications use it. That makes a very clear difference between matte and glossy paper. 

Created by viction:ary |


Final Words

Overall, the two-paper type does not have too many differences. Most people take the shiny appearance as the most obvious contrast. In the thickness, surface texture, and density, the contrast is barely noticeable. Another big difference is the final printing finish. Both can give high-quality print, but with specific cons followed.

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