What’s the difference
When you order printing, the difference between matte and glossy paper is “shininess” of the paper. This difference is most apparent when you flip the sheets of paper under the light.
The two paper types look and feel different to the touch, but they’re actually manufactured in a very similar manner. Matte paper uses the same chemical coating as gloss paper.
Gloss paper has more of the coating applied than matte paper. You could say matte paper as a “semi-gloss” or a “light gloss”. It has enough of a coating to add thickness and smoothness to the paper, but not enough to reflect paper under the light.
Choosing between matte and glossy paper for printing
The biggest factor when you choose between matte and glossy paper is the kinds of content that you’re printing. How many photographs, graphic designs/illustrations, and articles of text do you have in your prints?
Glossy paper is shinier—this makes the colour in your images “pop” on the sheet. The extra shine works well on print files with heavy colour coverage, especially photographs and big graphics. This effect also gives the colour on the prints look like they have higher contrast.
Matte paper has a more muted feel to it. This can be used to great effect in designs with a light or pastel colour scheme, and in designs with a great deal of text on it. Because matte paper changes less under the light, they also have more of a “flat” feel than gloss sheets.
Don’t stress! You can’t really choose the wrong paper for printing. You’re not going to end up in a situation where you regret the choice of the paper. Both paper types carry colour very well, and it ends up coming down to subtle preference and nuance.