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How To Choose Paper for Printing

There are several characteristics to think about when choosing paper for printing, including paper weights, paper finishes, brightness, opacity, and size. Break it down into sections to help you figure out which type of paper is best for the job you’re doing.

Types of Paper Weights

There are several paper weights to choose from, and the right one depends on what you’re printing.

Bond Paper

Bond paper, also known as writing paper, is the type of paper you’re likely to find in your printer at home or work. It is highly versatile and comes in a variety of weights. Light-weight bond paper is best for faxes, copies, tracing, and printing emails and documents. Mid-weight bond paper is suited to double-sided printing, legal documents, presentations, reports, and proposals. Heavy-weight bond paper is good for fliers, signs, resumes, and contracts, and may also be used fr presentations, reports, and double-sided printing.

Book Paper

Book paper comes in a range of thicknesses and may be uncoated or coated to make it glossy, semi-glossy, or matte, depending on its use. Its common uses include books, maps, catalogues, booklets, magazines, and posters.

Cover Paper

Cover paper, also known as card stock, is a stiff paper that comes in various thicknesses. It’s often used for business cards, invitations, postcards, menus, report covers, and sketchbooks. 

Index Paper

Index paper is a thick paper, most commonly used for—you guessed it— index cards. It is also used to make binder tabs, folders, dividers, postcards, and sketchbooks.

Tag Paper

Tag paper is a stiff, durable paper used for folders, postcards, menus, time cards, posters, folders, signage, and price tags.

Text Paper

Text paper is considered high-quality paper when compared to book paper. It is often used for stationery, brochures, office memos, letterhead printing jobs, and thesis papers.

Types of Paper Finishes

When trying to decide what printing paper to use, you need to choose from a variety of finishes.

Cockle: Drying the paper with a small amount of tension results in a wavy and puckered finish.

Matte: Smooth and dull, which is well-suited to high-quality printing jobs.

Gloss: Shiny and highly reflective on both sides of the paper.

Laid: A special process during paper-making that gives the appearance of vertical and horizontal lines running through the paper.

Linen: Looks and feels like linen.

Smooth: Undergoes a process to make the paper smooth, like in a calendar.

Wove: Has a slight texture with an even finish.

Satin: Has a glossiness that falls somewhere between matte and glossy.

Other Considerations

There are two more components to choosing the right printing paper. Before you choose, you need to decide on the brightness. The brightness of a sheet of paper is determined by how much light it reflects, which affects the page’s readability, ink absorption, and contrast.

Another factor to consider is opacity, which is determined by how easily you can see through to the other side of the paper, with 0% being completely transparent and 100% being completely opaque. The final part of choosing the right kind of paper is the size. Choose the size and dimensions of paper that are suitable for your project.

Once you’ve considered all of these options and have decided which type satisfies your paper needs, navigate to your paper shop and pick out the type of paper that’s right for you.