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Printing With Photo Paper - Photo Paper Guide to Finishes, Sizes & Weight (2020)

Everything you need to know about printing with photo paper, paper finishes, size and weight.

Digitally sharing and storing photos is king in today’s photography world. However, looking at your photo on a screen doesn’t even come close to the feeling of physically holding your favourite snaps.

If you’re looking to start your photo printing journey, then our photo paper guide will tell you everything you need to know about printing with photo paper, paper finish types, sizes and weight!

Which Paper Is Best For Photo Printing And Photo Paper Finish Types


There’s a HUGE range of photo paper finishes; so many that it can be confusing to know what each finish will look like.

It doesn’t help that photo paper manufacturers can create their own terms for their paper finishes.

However, the two main finishes—and so the two you only really need to know—are glossy and matt.


The most common photo paper finish is glossy, which gives the photo’s surface a shiny effect.

The shine allows you to see more detail in the photo, making the subject clearer and making colours more vibrant; use a glossy paper when you want to see every single detail in the shot. 

However, On the flip-side, the shine that comes with the glossy photo paper finish can make viewing the photo difficult in certain angles and under different light sources.

It also makes the surface more sensitive to marks like fingerprints and dirt. As a general rule when printing with photo paper, you should stick to the following guidelines:

I want to see every colour in my photo = use glossy photo paper

I want to print a colourful landscape photo = use glossy photo paper


Matte is the opposite of glossy. Matt photo paper does not reflect light, eliminating any shine from the photo and giving a more muted effect.

This is perfect for black and white photos or photos where text is the main feature. Matte paper usually works better for photos going in a frame, since a shiny (glossy) surface can look strange through glass.

However its worth bearing in mind that in some cases the matte finish can diminish the photo’s quality, reducing colour vibrancy and contrast. As a general rule when printing with photo paper, you should stick to the following guidelines:

I want to put my photo in a photo frame = use matt photo paper

I want to print a black & white photo = use matt photo paper


There are also satin finishes, which lie somewhere between Glossy & Matte. Matte photo paper, also known as semi gloss can offer the best of both worlds for photos.

Satin photo paper is great for showing detail and is ideal for using in photo frames.

Similarly, Pearl and Luster are usually different forms of the Satin finish.

Matt and Glossy paper scal

Bottom Line: When printing with any kind of photo paper you should consider how the shine or matte finish will affect the image colour and detail.


Photo Paper Sizes


The majority of people will recognise the standard A4 paper size, which will help you have a better understanding of other sizes of paper.

Although it may go against your common sense, the smaller the number of the paper the bigger the paper size. For example A1 is bigger than A2, A2 is bigger than A3, A3 is bigger than A4 and so on.

Here’s our photo paper size guide:

  • A0 = 1189 x 841 (mm)

Vinyl / PVC Banners

  • A1 = 841 x 594 (mm)

Vinyl / Wall Planners

  • A2 = 594 x 420 (mm)

Vinyl / Posters

  • A3 = 420 x 297 (mm)

Posters / Menus

  • A4 = 297 x 210 (mm)

Magazines / Flyers / Office Paper

  • A5 = 210 x 148 (mm)

Flyers / Leaflets

  • A6 = 148 x 105 (mm)

Postcards / Leaflets

  • A7 = 105 x 74 (mm)

Tickets / Small Leaflets

  • Business Cards = 85 x 55 (mm)


Credit to Digital Printing

Photo Paper Weight

If you’re likely to be framing your photos, then the grams per square metre (GSM) weight of the paper won’t have an impact.

However, if you’re likely to be holding your photos from time to time, then you’ll want to pay attention to a paper’s GSM weight.

Gram per Square Metre (GSM) determines the weight and feel of paper. The higher the number, the better feel and quality the paper will have.

On the low end, toilet paper has a gsm of around 20 and a newspaper has GSM of around 40. On the higher end, magazine covers have a gsm of 250 and business cards can have a gsm of 1000!

Are you ready to start printing with photo paper? Or do you have any questions about our photo paper guide?

Get in touch to talk to one of our printing experts, or take a look at our entire reange of Photo Paper.

by Harrison Cameras on 07/08/2020


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