Coated Paper: Coated paper has a glossy or matte finish. Coated paper is generally very smooth and can be either very shiny (high gloss) or have a subtle shine (matte). Either way, coated paper will have a great effect on the appearance and usefulness of the printed item. Coated paper is more resistant to dirt, moisture and wear. It also makes the printed material more shiny. That is why it is generally used in the printing of magazines, book covers, glossy photos and art books. Coating restricts the amount of ink that is absorbed by the paper and how the ink bleeds into the paper. This is desirable for sharp and complex images as the ink stays on top of the paper and will not wick or bleed reducing the sharpness of the printed material. This same property can be unattractive for the back of business cards as the coated paper does not take well to pen ink or pencil and many people like to write on the back of business cards.
Uncoated Paper: Generally more absorbent of ink than a coated paper, like its namesake, uncoated paper does not have a coating. It is generally not as smooth as coated paper and tends to be more porous. Uncoated paper is generally used for letterhead, envelopes and printed material that is aiming for a more prestigious or elegant look. College and University booklets, real estate brochures and menus for elegant restaurants are generally printed on uncoated paper to give them a prestigious feel.