Stocks, Papers, and Substrates – oh my!

Uncoated Textured Paper Stock

Selecting a stock for your label is an important decision – it is the canvas for your graphics and the foundation for all the embellishments you choose. If you flip through a stock book or look at papers online, it can be overwhelming due to the number of choices available. To help provide some clarity, read on to learn about different types of stocks.

First, the terms stocks, papers, and substrates can be used interchangeably. So, if you are talking to your printer or researching online, keep in mind they are generally referring to the same thing. However, when discussing pressure sensitive materials, “stock” usually refers to the combination of a substrate laminated to a liner, with the addition of an adhesive and release layer in between. While stocks differ by adhesive and liner type, this article will only focus on the paper itself.


Uncoated paper is similar to the printer paper in your copier. While it is still coated with special products to aid in the adherence of inks and foils, it does not have an extra smooth coating or finishing that adds a high sheen or glossiness. Since uncoated paper has a matte look, it is good for designs seeking a rich, rustic appearance, with a lot of text or fine type. Uncoated papers vary from semi-smooth to very aggressive with pre-applied texture from the paper mill. Uncoated textured papers are known by common names such as Felt, Linen, and Eggshell. Non-textured examples include Estate #8, Classic Crest Solar White, and Royal White.


Unique papers have special finishes and are made from non-traditional materials like wood veneers, velvet cloth and fabric. Unique papers are a great way to make your label pop and engage customers with a distinctive look. For example, Cherry and Birch Wood are made from exceptionally thin slices of real trees and therefore every inch is different – so no two labels look exactly alike. Furthermore, if you are looking for a shimmery stock, look no further than Sparkling Asti, Frozen Orion Diamond, or White Pearl – all with iridescent, reflective properties.

Coated and Glossy

Coated and glossy papers have a smooth, non-textured finish. Glossy papers are best suited for designs with colorful images or artistic scenes. Compare to printing home photos – do the images look better on matte copy paper or thick glossy photo paper? A similar logic applies to label designs. Coated and glossy papers are also great for products like olive oil or cosmetics because the label can repel liquids better than uncoated stocks. Examples of glossy papers include Premium High Gloss, Cast Gloss, and Semi-Gloss. Examples of coated matte papers include 60# Matte and Matte Litho.


Film stocks are smooth, shiny, and hold up well to moisture. Films come in clear, white and metallized and are aptly named Clear BOPP, White BOPP, and Metallized BOPP. There is also a FasClear option for optimal clarity. Clear film can be used in a variety of innovative ways such as letting the contents of the bottle show through the design, creating a screen-printed look, or having floating graphics.

For more information, check out these paper supplier’s websites or contact our team:

Avery Dennison

Wausau Coated Products

UPM Raflatac