Any surface characterized by a rough, dull, and/or unshiny appearance, produced by the surface reflecting more light back toward the eye. Colors printed on matte surfaces appear less dense.
In papermaking, matte refers to a paper surface that has a low level of gloss and which does not appear shiny. Paper that has a high degree of gloss reflects the light rays that hit its surface back nearly all in the same direction, while paper that has a low degree of gloss reflects the light back more diffusely, or in different directions, which imparts a dull surface to the paper. Whether a paper's surface is glossy or matte is related to the paper's smoothness. Increasing calendering, supercalendering, or coating tends to increase a paper's gloss.
A paper's level of gloss is measured using a glossmeter and the value obtained is compared to a "perfect" gloss of 100 gloss units. Matte papers tend to register less than 20 gloss units. (See also Gloss.)