Comparison of Inkjet Paper Types

What’s the difference between glossy semi-gloss and matte inkjet photo papers?

Which finish should I choose?

Glossy photo prints have a shiny finish while non glossy (matte) prints have a duller neutral look. There are advantages and disadvantages to the three main paper types as listed below.

Glossy Paper

shiny look
reflects light well
vibrant rich colors
appealing to the eye
the standard finish we are now used to seeing
can be hard to view under strong light sources
fingerprints and dirt can be a problem

Non-Glossy (Matte) Paper

does not reflect light
black and white prints may look better with this finish
easy to view under all light conditions
does not attract fingerprints or dirt
colors are dull looking
do not appear to be high quality prints
photo paper looks and feels like ordinary stock paper

Semi-Gloss (Satin Finish) Paper

less shiny surface
reflects less light
vibrant rich colors
appealing to the eye
easier to view under strong light
fingerprints and dust less of a problem

We use semi-gloss paper for prints up to 8×10 unless the customer requests a specific paper finish. Larger prints are printed on glossy only. 


Most photos are now printed on glossy or semi-glossy photo paper because many people prefer the look, and feel that pictures appear sharper. However, there is no difference in sharpness and no advantage to having a glossy surface, especially if the photo is placed under glass or plastic.

Other Considerations

Most old photos were printed on matte papers while most modern photos were printed on various glossy type papers. If you are restoring very old sepia or black and white heirloom family pictures, it might be appropriate to use a matte paper finish. On the other hand, for newer color pictures a glossy or semi-gloss paper may be the way to go. The choice is yours.

I hope you found this information useful. Happy printing!