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The Difference Between Paper Whiteness and Brightness

You would be forgiven for confusing paper brightness and whiteness as the same thing, you would not be alone, many designers and creative’s are often unaware of the difference.

In truth they are two very different things, let’s take a look at each to understand the difference.

What is Paper Brightness?

Paper brightness is the measure of the paper’s ability to reflect light, the higher the number the brighter the sheet. The brightness is measured on a scale of zero to one hundred.

In other words, 95 bright paper reflects more light than an 85 bright paper, therefore appearing brighter.

Think of your paper as a light bulb. Papers that are rated higher on the Brightness scale will allow the four-color process colours to pop more, appear more vibrant, enhance impact and create contrast on the page.

What is Paper Whiteness?

Paper whiteness is the quality of light; it refers to the shade of the sheet of paper. The three major shades of paper are: balanced white, warm white and blue white. Most coated papers are currently manufactured to a blue white shade. This is because, to the human eye, the blue white shade appears to be brighter.

When Brightness and Whiteness Go Off the Charts

If you’ve looked at a variety of paper, you may have seen brightness and whiteness levels going above the 100 scale mentioned earlier. The 100 limit is for standard paper made only with pulp. However, additives may be added to make the paper appear even brighter or whiter.

These additives are known as Optical Brightening Agents (OBA) and in reference to brightness they reflect ultraviolet or UV light as visible light. In other words, this is reflecting more visible light than the actual light source emits. Similarly, fluorescent OBAs will cause whiteness values to increase above 100.

When it comes to choosing paper for your printed materials it is important to understand the difference between brightness and whiteness. Think wattage when thinking about brightness and think shade when looking at the paper property of whiteness.

To find out what Lemon Press can do for you, call us on 01527 510262 or email info@nulllemonpress.co.uk

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