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What is the meaning of “Opacity” in regard to Paper?

A colorful flower bouquet seen behind examples of high and low opacity paper stocks

Paper Opacity Defined…

Opacity refers to the degree that a substrate is able to block the transmission of visible light. In the context of paper, most paper stocks used for printing have an opacity level between 80% and 98%.

The higher the opacity of a given paper, the lower the possibility that printed text and images on one side of the sheet will show through to the other side.

A paper's opacity is not generally a concern for a print project that has ink applied to one side only, such as a poster or placemat. However, paper opacity is very important for a project that has printing on both sides of a sheet and/or includes bound pages, such as brochures or books. After all, you don't want any printing showing through from another page and interfering with the clarity of the page you are reading.

What Factors contribute to a Paper's Opacity?

Paper with high opacity (minimal see-through) is referred to as Opaque paper. Opaque paper can resist the passage of light using a variety of ways. For example, a coated paper stock will reflect light, a textured stock will scatter light, a thick stock will block light, and a dark-colored stock will absorb light.

A stack of colorful magazines lying open on a table
Using paper that has a high degree of Opacity minimizes the possibility of printed images and text showing through to the other side of a sheet

The Importance of Opaque Paper

In addition to minimizing the possibility of ink showing through, paper stocks with a high opacity level provide a solid and consistent background for printed content. This enhances the professionalism of print materials because the ink colors will appear more vivid and true. As such, opaque paper is particularly important for print materials used for marketing and promotional purposes.

Opaque paper is also essential for any two-sided printed pieces that have heavy ink coverage, such as catalogs containing product photos or children's books filled with colorful illustrations.

Points to remember about Opacity when choosing a paper…

  • Coated paper stocks will provide more opacity than uncoated stocks

  • Paper stocks with a rough or textured finish will provide more opacity than smooth stocks

  • Thicker paper stocks, such as cover weights and cardstocks, will provide more opacity than thinner stocks

  • Colored papers stocks, particularly darker stocks, will provide more opacity than light colored stocks

Color Vision is here to help!

Color Vision has been producing high-quality printing since 1984. So if you need help figuring out the best paper to use for a particular printing project, get in touch with us and we will be happy to help.

Just give us a call at 800-543-6299 to discuss your project. Or, if you are looking to get a price quote, use our simple Quote Request form to send us your specifications and we will email a quote to you.

Whatever your printing needs may be, we look forward to assisting you!

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