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The convertability and barrier properties of paperboard coated with hydroxypropyl-cellulose (HPC) based dispersions were studied via tray pressing trials, oil resistance measurements and microscopic analyses. To improve the oil resistance of the HPC-based coatings and to maximize their convertability, talc, gelatin and latex were used as additives in coating formulations. The oil resistance of the coatings improved to some extent with these additives, but scanning electron micrographs revealed the existence of pinholes particularly in coatings with a high HPC content. The coated paperboard samples were pressed into rectangular trays and the convertability of the paperboards was evaluated with a microscope. Thereafter, the oil resistance of the trays was determined in order to clarify how the tray pressing process affected the oil resistance. Pure HPC coating did not provide appreciable oil resistance to the paperboard, but the composite coatings resisted oil up to 11 minutes at the tray corners, which were considered the most demanding regions in the tray. The pure HPC coating was sticky and tended to stick to the converting tools in the press forming. Adding talc to the coating dispersion reduced this problem. By applying a thin pre-coating layer, it was possible to raise the blank holding force in the pressing process from 1.16 kN to 1.55 kN without causing rupture in the tray corner areas or compromising the quality of the creases. With commercial polyethylene-terephthalate-coated reference paperboard, the use of such a high force resulted in long rupture and opened creases, which confirms the excellent applicability of the developed dispersion-coating recipes for the tray-pressing process. These observations suggest that convertibility is not necessarily a major problem with bio-based dispersion barrier coatings and that more attention should be paid to their barrier properties and particularly to the prevention of pinholes being formed during the coating process.