Picking the Right Paper for the Job: 7 Key Things to Look For

When putting your ideas on paper, they’re only as good as the paper itself, since presentation makes an impact. So whether it’s your important client report or your kids’ gallery-worthy masterpiece, choosing your paper is the first step in getting the look and feel you’re going for.

Start with the end in mind:

1.What Type Works Best? 

Multipurpose/Dual-Purpose Paper

Plays very well with copiers or printers. Brighter than copy paper, it also produces sharper prints.

Copy Paper

If you’re making copies for in-house use, this cost-effective and lightweight paper does the trick.

Color Copy Paper

Use this for eye-catching presentations.

Inkjet Paper

Use only this type of paper for inkjet printers since it’s engineered for water-based inks. Is has a higher quality than multipurpose paper.

Laser Paper

Designed with a smoother surface just for laser printers—so do not use it on inkjet, as the ink will run!

2.What Size Do You Want?

Do you want to go extra big and bold? Do you need to adhere to certain guidelines? Paper comes in a range of sizes. The most common are:

  • Letter size: 8 ½” x 11”
  • Legal size: 8 ½” x 14”
  • Ledger size: 11” x 17”

3.Do You Have a Texture Preference?

The paper’s surface affects how it will “take” the ink, so the smoother the better. Look for a smooth paper. Or if your paper isn’t as smooth as you’d like, choose the Lighter/Darker setting on your printer to create a similar density level to a smoother paper.

4.Do You Care About Impurities?

Recycled paper quality has improved significantly in the time since it was first introduced. It is a high quality paper, but you’ll still sometimes run into imperfections in the document. So we wouldn’t recommend using this paper for your most important documents.

5.How Bright and Beautiful Do You Want It?

Brightness does not equal whiteness. Whiteness denotes the shade (common descriptors are balanced white, warm white, or blue white), whereas brightness refers to how much light the paper reflects. Paper is generally assigned a brightness number from 0 – 100, with 100 the brightest. The standard is 92, but we’d recommend at least a 96 for presentation quality. Some manufactures call this UltraBright or SuperBright. A low brightness won’t have sharp contrast and the whites will look more off white, where the blacks won’t be as deep and dark.

6.Do You Want to See Through It?

Opacity measures how much light passes through the paper. Complete opacity is 100%, and paper is described as low-, medium-, or high-opacity. Premium paper has higher opacity, so you can’t see through to the other side. This is important for two-sided printing.

7.How Do You Want It to Feel? 

Weight refers to thickness, and thickness connotes premium quality. Typically, office paper weighs between 20-32 pounds. For better images, use a heavier paper for higher color saturation.

  • 20lb – Copy paper for everyday
  • 24lb – Multipurpose paper for business letterheads, stationary
  • 28lb – Thicker paper for brochures and double-sided printing
  • 32lb – Also used for brochures and double-sided printing.

Now for the fun part. Start creating! And if you have any Double A paper masterpieces, please post them here. We’d love to see them!