Foundations in Graphic Communications: Checking Color Proofs

New York City College Of Technology
Advertising Design & Graphic Arts: NYCCT

The Course At A Glance


Foundations in Graphic Communications
Patrick Henry     (p) 718.847.9430     (c) 917.647.0590     (e)


BRIGHTNESS is the measurement of how much white light a paper reflects, expressed as a percentage. No paper reflects 100 percent of the light striking it, but some come close. Premium coated and uncoated white papers and some laser papers are rated as high as 97 percent. Paper for business forms falls somewhere in the 80s--about as low as the lowest rating for any printed product would be. (At the opposite end of the brightness scale are items like brown paper bags, which have a brightness rating of around 20.)

Brightness affects readability: too little means low contrast and a dull appearance; too much produces glare and eyestrain. Generally speaking, papers for products like books and technical manuals are less bright than papers for magazines and advertising brochures.

OPACITY determines how visible images from the underside of the sheet will be on the side being looked at. A paper should have enough opacity to prevent unwanted images from showing through. Like brightness, opacity is expressed as a percentage, and most printing papers fall within the 80 to 98 percent range (although swatchbooks and price books usually don't present these ratings--select with care).

Mills sometimes add fillers and chemicals to certain papers to increase their opacity. These papers then are marketed as "opaque" grades. Another way to get better opacity is to specify a paper with a higher basis. However, heavier paper costs more to buy and can add to the cost of binding and postage.

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