How to Choose Your Paper Type | Blurb Blog

How to Choose Your Paper Type
04 Nov 2015

How to Choose Your Paper Type

Your beautiful book or magazine already exists in your head, but ensuring that vision comes to life on the page involves an important choice about paper and cover type. Do you want your images to have texture on the page? Do you want glossy pages or more of a matte feel? Do you want your book to stand out amongst crowded bookshelves or to fit in? These are just some of the questions customers ask when trying to decide which paper is right for their project. But have no fear, we’ve simplified your choices below to make the selection process easy and straightforward.

Photo Book Paper Types

Standard

  • Semi-matte, 80# (118 GSM)
  • Starts at US $0.20 per additional page
  • Smooth semi-matte finish
  • Manufactured by Verso, a company devoted to quality and sustainability
  • This paper comes standard in books with more than 240 pages

Great for: All kinds of photo books or art books where price is a concern.

Premium Lustre

  • Hint of gloss, 100# (148 GSM)
  • Starts at US $0.30 per additional page
  • Around 35% heavier and slightly more opaque than our Standard Paper
  • Great tonal range and contrast, and prints with deeper blacks than our Premium Matte paper
  • This paper is only available for books with 20-240 pages

Great for: Photo books that will benefit a little bit more gloss and a heftier page.

Premium Matte

  • Matte, 100# (148 GSM)Starts at
  • Starts at US $0.30 per additional pageSlight sheen to paper, which adds richness to its finish and slight sheen to paper, which adds richness to its finish and feelAround 35% heavier and more opaque than our Standard Paper
  • Around 35% heavier and more opaque than our Standard Paper
  • This paper is only available for books with 20-240 pages

Great for: Photo books and art books with a more subdued feel. Paintings and drawings, in particular, are better presented in Matte than Lustre. But if fine art is your thing, also check out the paper below.

ProLine Uncoated

  • Uncoated, 100# (148 GSM)
  • Starts at US $0.35 per additional page
  • Archival-quality paper with an eggshell-textured uncoated finish
  • Manufactured by Mohawk Fine Papers, one of the most respected makers of paper for use in photography and design books
  • This paper is only available for books with 20-240 pages

Great for: Illustration, printmaking, collage, watercolor painting—this is a marvelous paper for fine art projects. It’s also a great choice for photography, particularly where you want a more artisanal look. It will magnify grain.

ProLine Pearl Photo

  • Semi-gloss, 140# (190 GSM)
  • Starts at US $0.40 per additional page
  • Made for use in high-end photo books
  • Slightly glossier finish than our Premium Lustre paper, and slightly heavier than our other papers
  • This paper is only available for books with 20-240 pages

Great for: Photo books with bright colors, warm skin tones, deep blacks, silvery grays. It has the look of a traditional photo paper.

Trade Book Print Options

Economy, Black and White

  • White uncoated, 50# (75 GSM) or Cream uncoated, 50# (80 GSM)

Great for: Books that contain mostly text. Large areas of black will likely show some banding.

Standard, Black and White

  • White uncoated, 50# (75 GSM)

Great for: Books that don’t require color but that have lots of illustrations, graphics, or line art.

Economy, Color

  • White uncoated, 70# (105 GSM)

Great for: Books that have graphics, vector art, or little pops of text color, at a low price point. Photography does work too, but keep your images small and expect a slightly lo-fi look.

Standard, Color

  • White uncoated, 70# (105 GSM)
  • Printing features rich, black ink and deep colors (great for page backgrounds, for example).

Great for: Books with any kind of photos, paintings, collage, illustrations, or graphics.

Magazine Paper Types

Economy

  • Gloss, 60# paper
  • On par with magazines you’d find at your local newsstand.
  • Can accommodate page counts from 20 to 240.

Great for: Publications with graphics, illustrations, and text. Photos work too, but if your publication is primarily photo-driven, consider Premium.

Premium

  • Matte, 80# paper
  • Photographs, drawings, and designs are beautifully rendered on the matte, velvet-finish paper.
  • Can accommodate page counts from 20 to 240.

Great for: Fine art magazines, photography journals, fashion, comic books.

Interested in seeing the paper types in person? You can order a swatch kit here.


Milena Canizares

Milena’s a Canadian writer who lives in San Francisco. She’s passionate about writers, books, and getting good ideas off the ground. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire and The Globe and Mail, amongst others. When not writing or editing, you can find her traveling around Europe or exploring the Bay Area. She’s addicted to diet coke, obsessed with sushi, and takes way too many pictures of clouds.

  • Juan Gonzales

    Do you know if mixing paper types within a single book is possible? I am planning to print a trade book composed of mostly text, with just a few pages of photos.

    • Customer Support

      Hi Juan – You can mix text or photos together but at this time only one paper type is available to choose from. We’ll definitely forward your suggestion to our development team. Thanks!

    • Blurb Customer Support

      Hi Juan – You can mix text or photos together but at this time only one paper type is available to choose from. We’ll definitely forward your suggestion to our development team. Thanks!

      • Mick Buston

        I would love the ability to print on multiple papers in a test book format too to see what worked on a project by project basis. Guess that would be complicated from your end but would only need to be 10 – 12 pages just to test how different photographs worked on different papers.

  • Jess

    I bought a digital download on etsy and I want to get it printed. Its got word bubbles all over to write what you love about the person, however I’m concerned about what to print it on. I want to get it in a poster with a satin finish but will a sharpie work to write on it and not smudge it???

    • Darryl Brooks

      I’ve just done a test on the sample swatches and a Sharpie works okay (in terms of smudging) on Standard (80lb) Premium lustre (100lb). It slightly shows through on the back but won’t be a problem for a poster.

  • Maddie

    Hi. i would like to make a planner/agenda. Is it possible to write on the Economy Color White Uncoated Paper with pencil or pen? Thanks!

    • Kent Hall

      Hey Maddie,

      Absolutely! It’s great for that.

    • Darryl Brooks

      just answered this for someone else above

  • Sheree Kornkven

    I see no one answered the question about writing on the paper–I am creating a workbook students will use and write in. Would the Economy Black and White uncoated by OK for that?

    • Darryl Brooks

      I’ve just done a test on the sample swatches and a Sharpie works okay (in terms of smudging) on Standard (80lb) Premium lustre (100lb) and Proline Uncoated (100lb) – you have to be careful on page thickness because it does show through on the back side slightly on the lighter standard paper (with a standard Sharpe fine-point). I don’t have the Economy swatches but would imagine that to be worse.

      • Martha Lineberger

        I am hoping to make myself a custom planner. Do you know if regular ball-point and/or felt tip pens (not just sharpies) will write on the various paper types?

        • Darryl Brooks

          I haven’t tried them but don’t see why not. Same as writing on a magazine page.