In order to get the most from your printer here’s some tips for selecting the right paper. When it comes to selecting the right paper the two most important factors are the type of printer and purpose of the print job. An obvious recommendation would be premium inkjet paper for inkjet printers and premium laser paper for laser printers, but why? Here’s a quick rundown on the differences and the benefits of each type.
There is a huge variety of paper out there. This article will just cover a few basic types for everyday use in printers. To begin, general use paper is uncoated, has a rough surface, is dusty, and is the least expensive type of paper. Due to its higher paper dust content and rougher surface it is not recommended for inkjet or laser printers.
Copy paper is better for printers than general use paper. It isn’t coated either but is smoother than general use paper. Laser paper, sometimes called premium color copy paper, is ultra smooth, has little paper dust, is more uniform, but is not coated. Premium Color Laser paper will generally be whiter and produce better results in any printer. The best output can be obtained with a coated paper in an inkjet printer.
When it comes to an inkjet printer selecting the right paper will make a tremendous difference in quality. General use paper allows the ink wick into the paper much more than a laser paper. When the ink wicks into the paper it causes text to be fuzzy and images of lesser quality. Ink is too expensive to be printing it on general purpose paper. Rather than printing an inkjet in econo mode on general use paper all the time, a basic black and white laser printer could pay for itself with the savings.
Inkjet printers are for printing high quality glossy photos which require better paper. For the best results a coated photo paper will prevent the ink from absorbing into the paper, such as these:
This paper is meant only for inkjet printers as the coating will melt in a laser printer. Coated paper will also require a few more seconds for the ink to dry. If your inkjet printer has a quality or speed setting, set it to high quality with this paper. If it doesn’t you may have to manually remove each sheet as it finishes so the next one coming out doesn’t smear it. For printing photos this paper can’t be beat.
To strike a balance between quality and cost for your inkjet select an uncoated premium paper. Since it isn’t coated it will work in laser printer as well. However it’s smoothed surface does an excellent job preventing the ink from bleeding into the paper. For everyday printing on your inkjet this is the paper to use:
Color Laser Paper
For laser printers, the difference paper makes in quality can be readily seen with color images. When applying 4 layers of toner a smoother surface will allow the pile of toner to retain it’s original shape as much as possible. The image will have sharper edges and well defined colors the less the toner spreads. The benefit of a smoother surface for one layer of toner is not as noticeable, so this isn’t recommended for black & white printing. When printing in color the best results are from the smoothest paper, such as this from Hammermill:
It may not be as drastic a difference as photo inkjet paper in an inkjet printer, however premium color paper v general purpose paper does make a significant difference when printing color. Copy paper is fine for mostly black & white documents. However, to make the text really pop, we recommend this paper for your everyday printing:
Brightness and weight
When it comes to printing color, whether it be inkjet or laser, the higher the brightness the better. A higher brightness will really make the colors stand out. When printing color images weight is more a matter of preference, but I would recommend at least 95 bright for printing color images.
When printing something such as a resume or other important document I would recommend using 24 lb paper or heavier. The difference between 20 lb and 24 lb paper is noticeable and will make any document stand out.
Paper is like a sponge and will absorb any moisture in the air around it. Basements or garages are not good places to store extra reams of paper. Although it is a good idea to store paper in its own container. In my experience, if the room is kept at a reasonable temperature and humidity it is fine to store the paper in a drawer or top of a cabinet. Besides humidity, another issue is how flat the paper is stored. Paper will retain the shape it is stored. Leaving one corner hanging over the edge or laying the ream over an uneven surface will aggravate any natural curl present in the paper. Too much curl can cause jams.
Speaking of paper feed, some manufacturers will mark the ream of paper with an arrow ▲. This indicates which side of the paper should be printed on first. If there isn’t any mark usually the side which the seam of the wrapper is on is the “face” which will have the better results. If it isn’t in the documentation with your printer, mark one side with an X and send it through the printer to see if the paper is loaded face up or face down.
Choosing the right paper
Each printing project will have specific requirements and matching them to the right paper will save money in the long run. Not every color inkjet project needs 50lb coated photo paper. On the other hand, a two sided project in color on 24lb paper may not be heavy enough to avoid some of the image to bleeding through. Another way to save on printing costs is to print only the color images on higher quality paper then inserting them post production into the rest of the document. Paper comes in a variety of colors now. Colored paper is a cheaper alternative to make a resume or flier stand out.
Hopefully you found these tips for selecting the right paper helpful and don’t forget to fan the paper before loading!