Paper transparency is often referred to in our industry as ‘show through’, or cheekily, how much you can read the other side of the page without tuning it. This is caused by thinner stocks having less pulp, and subsequently less opacity. Show through can make a publication look ‘cheap’ despite professional design, photography and quality printing.
WHY DOES SHOW THROUGH OCCUR AND WHEN IS IT MOST OBVIOUS?
It occurs in thinner papers when there is less pulp to create opacity, and is most obviously has a positive impact on cost, as well as dropping the total weight of your publication for freight and postage charges.
WHY WOULD I USE A LIGHT PAPER ANYWAY?
Using a light weight paper obviously impacts on cost, but it also affects the total weight of your publication which can affect freight and postage charges.
ARE ALL PAPERS THE SAME WHEN IT COMES TO SHOW THROUGH?
In short NO. Opacity is determined by the amount of pulp fibre in the paper, so coated papers (ones with a glossy or satin finish) have a polished clay surface on both sides and subsequently less fibre and more transparency. On the flip side, uncoated papers, similar to copy paper, are essentially all pulp and are more opaque and better at reducing show through.
AT WHAT PAPER WEIGHT WILL I NOT GET SHOW THROUGH?
If you’re using a coated paper, remembering that these have a clay surface and less pulp, show through reduces around the 130gsm, better still 150gsm. If you’re working with an uncoated paper (all pulp) you can take that down a few notches to a 100gsm.
IS THERE ANY WAY TO MINIMISE SHOW THROUGH?
We can’t change the properties of the paper stock, but you can make show through less obvious by backing up like pages. If you have heavy, dark ink coverage on one side, don’t have lots of white space on the reverse. Try to back it up with something equally as ink heavy so the show through is less obvious.
HOW CAN I CHECK SHOW THROUGH? If you’re at all concerned about show through on your next print project, get us to organise blank samples of the paper you’re hoping to use. Take the sheet and lay it over the top of another printed page and you’ll have a first hand glimpse of the potential show through in your publication.
Printcraft is Queensland’s largest privately owned printing company. We specialise in the design, print, mail and logistics. For more information on on our services, or to request a quote, or contact us directly.