When it comes to printing you want to make sure that whatever your producing has the desired impact. One of the biggest ways you can ensure this is what type of finish, or paper you use.

One of the biggest dilemmas has always been what finish to go for. Matt or glossy? Each finish can have a different visual impact on the viewer. So, we decided to look at both sides of the argument.

In this blog, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of both matt and gloss. We’ll also give some examples of when to use each, and with what products.

First up Matt….

Matt Paper Advantages

First, let’s talk a look at the advantages of using Matt paper.

  • Matt finished products add a certain slickness and muted style to anything it touches. It’s quite a modern style and at the moment on trend.
  • This paper dries very quickly and can resist accidental fingerprint smudges. This keeps the quality high.
  • Depending on what your producing this paper is also quite easy to write on with either a pen or pencil.
  • Matt paper is also affordable and can be used across various different printed projects.
  • With no thick and shiny coated layers, Matt paper can be used on both inject and laser printers. So, it’s very versatile.

Matt Paper Disadvantages

However, it’s not all good news, let’s look at the disadvantages

  • If you want something that stands the test of time you need to use professional matt paper. If you haven’t done the longevity of your project and productions won’t be great.
  •  We mentioned it not having a thick coating, this also means there is no protective layer. So, anything printed on matt paper is slightly more prone to crease or bend.

Glossy Paper Advantages

Anything printed on glossy paper tends to look very professional due to its think and shiny coating. Here are the other advantages you get…

  • Glossy paper will give your work a very smooth finish. This also makes it oddly satisfying to hold and touch. This instantly makes it more engaging with whoever is holding it. Which is a big plus.
  • Another big advantage of glossy paper is how good photos look when they are printed on this. If you want your products to really stand out and look visually appealing a glossy finish would be the way to go.
  • It can add that professional finishing touch to your work. Anything your customers hold should relay the quality of service they will receive from you. So it’s very important they see this quality.

Glossy Paper Disadvantages

Again, it’s not all good news. Here are your glossy disadvantages…

  • Glossy finishes are often hard to write on. So bare this in mind if you need people to sign up to things, or write down information.
  • To some extent glossy paper creates glare. This means at times it may be difficult to read under certain lights. Think in classrooms, or at events.
  • It can look cheap if not printed properly.

What should you use when?

So now that we have touched on the advantages and disadvantages of both what should you use when?

Business Cards

Business cards always hold a lot of value to their holders. Like it or not people may silently judge yours!

When it comes to business cards the style you are going for will influence the type of paper used greatly.

For example, if your business card features a headshot or an image a glossy paper will be the best choice. The coating will also offer extra protection and make any colours stand out the best they can.

That being said, they are also many instances where a matt business card will be the best option. So, if your cards background is a dark colour a matt finish will be the best choice.

Again, this will be greatly influenced by the design of your business card. Any printer, or designer should be able to advise you on the best course of action.

In certain professions, attorneys and accountants for example, may opt for a more restrained and professional look. The matt finish can provide this.


Similar to business cards the type of paper you use will depend on a few variables. This includes your card design and your overall reason or objective for sending the postcard.

For example, if you’re a real estate agent or restaurant promoting your services, a glossy finish can help your photos stand out and look very professional.

If you’re promoting an event, or a sale a glossy finish can help the colours on the postcard really stand out and grab attention.


By default, most brochures are printed with glossy stock. Most brochures have one overall goal, which is to make the company sending them out look as good as possible. A glossy stock will add that extra touch of class to brochures and make image stand out adding a level of professionalism that won’t go unnoticed.

It may be a travel agency, or a school brochure either way the effect transverses industries.

Matt brochures are fairly uncommon, but there are times when this finish may be more applicable. Again, the design will heavily influence this. If you don’t have that many images, or at least they aren’t the main focus a matt finish may be more useful. If the design’s main focus is typography or infographics a matt finish will be more useful here.

Flyers and Posters

Flyers and posters lend themselves to both glossy and matt paper stocks quite well. You may start seeing a common theme here, as again it all depends on the design and objective.

If you’re a retailer or a concert venue, or using an outdoor advertisement a glossy poster is very hard to miss. So, it’s great for grabbing attention which is exactly what you would want.

If you want a more muted and simpler poster a matt finish may be the way to do. If you’re using muted colours, or any retroelements a matt finish will complement these much better than glossy.

Where you are putting the flyer or poster can also influence what stock to do for. For example, if its outdoors in the sun, or a brightly lit environment a matt finish will be a lot easier to view.

Booklets and Catalogues

Glossy paper again is the most common that booklets and catalogues are printed on. As we mentioned before the finish provides an extra layer of protection. Which is exactly what you need with booklets and catalogues. This helps protect them from damage and creasing, and you also get the added benefit of photos looking their best.

If your producing a retail or commercial catalogue a glossy finish will be the way to go. You’ll get the best colour reproduction, your photos will look amazing, and your business will be represented in the best way.

That being said, we can’t write of a matt finish here either. Again, design comes into play. Or it could even be a conscious choice sticking to your brand image.

It’s also worth bearing in mind if you plan to have a lot of text, or prices, or if you wish for it to be easy to write on a matt finish should be your choice.

Final Thoughts

As you can see there are a lot of factors that go into deciding what type of finish to go for. Pros and cons for both Matt and Glossy.

If you’re unsure on which finish to choose ask those you’re printing with, they will be able to give you the best advice.

At Dornan’s we have over 100 years’ experience advising some of the biggest brands in the UK on debates just like this. If your unsure on what finish to have feel free to drop us a line and we’ll be happy to advise you.