Paper Matters Blog
Print Solutions: Which Line Screen Should I Use on Uncoated Paper?

I’m often asked for details on how we print our Cougar® or Lynx® Opaque Ultra promotional pieces. They were all printed using conventional 4-color offset printing equipment. We’ve printed rich black in a variety of ways through the years, all at the advice of the print professional we partner with for that particular project. We’ve also used a variety of line screens at the advice of our printers.

I have been told that high line screens should be avoided when printing uncoated papers, but I tend to ignore that advice! As long as pre-press applies the right curves, there is NO reason NOT to use a 200 line screen….or higher.

The images below show the same image area at the different line screens of 150, 175 and 200. Keep in mind that there is a direct relationship between screen ruling and dot gain. A finer screen does not automatically produce a better image. Fine screen ruling, in fact, may increase dot gain if not accounted for in pre-press.

150 Line Screen

175 Line Screen

200 Line Screen

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We have experimented with line screen before on some of our promotional pieces. One of my favorites was Lynx Garage, a piece predominantly printed with a 211 line screen. Because we could, we also included an image at 300 line screen and one printed stochastically.

We used a variety of line screens in our Lynx Garage promotion. Left to right: 211 line screen, 300 line screen, and Stochastic Screen.

The key to keeping images sharp and preventing plugging of the highlights is to manage dot gain in pre-press. Images with high levels of detail can reproduce with stellar results on uncoated papers. Step out of your comfort zone and consider running a higher line screen. With the appropriate dot gain curves applied, your images will be crisp and fine details will jump off the page!

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