How To Choose Paper For Printing

When it comes to printing from a computer these days, the paper that you use in your printer is equally as important as the kind of printer that you are using. The paper that you use to printout your job can directly affect the final output from the printer. This is especially true when it comes to printing your own photographs that you took from a digital camera or your cell phone.

What kind of things that you should be taking into consideration when choosing paper

Since we established that the paper that you want to use is extremely important when it comes to affecting the final output from your printer, we decided to come up with some valuable tips on what you should be considering when you go to purchase that best paper for your needs. Below is a short list of the things you should always take into considering when you are at the store looking for paper or looking online for a good quality paper.

3 Things to consider when choosing printer paper

  • Coated vs. Uncoated Paper
  • Weight and thickness of the paper stock
  • Brightness and opacity

Coated vs. Uncoated Paper

Uncoated Paper

While there are many different reasons why a person may want to print what they have created on their computer. The paper that is used will play the most significant role in how the result that comes out of the printer. This is especially true when it comes to printing photo quality prints on any printer. When it comes everyday printing of documents, it is generally accepted practice to use plain white letter paper (often called copy paper). This is because for the most part what is being printed is for short term consumption and not really going to be kept for any length of time.

Coated Paper

When you are looking to make a good first impression or make a statement with what you are printing, then you will want to look into coated printer paper. These coatings placed on top of the paper gives the print a unique finish. These coatings on the paper will vary depending on what you are wanting. The three most common coating/finishes are; gloss, dull and matte.

Gloss – A gloss coated paper will really bring out the shine and vivid colors of your prints. This is commonly found in magazines and marketing materials.

Dull – When using dull coated paper your images and colors will look a bit muted and not prominently as you will get from a gloss coated paper.

Matte – Matte paper is a non-glossy, more flat finish that is found primarily in professional portrait studios. You don’t lose the vivid colors, but it does have a more dull appearance.

Weight and Thickness of the paper stock

When it comes to the weight of paper stock it generally refers to a calculation based on how much a pack of 500 sheets of the specific size of paper weighs. It also applies to the thickness of paper, which usually means that heavier the weight will translate into a thicker piece of paper. The paper stock is typically separated into three distinct categories; Bond, Text, and Cover.

Bond – Bond paper, in general, is the lightest of the three types of paper and is commonly used as copy paper. It is generally found inside most of the printers in the world.

Text – Text paper is used when there is a need for light to medium weight paper. You will find text weight paper mostly in the envelope industry.

Cover – Cover paper stock is generally the thickest of all of the paper stock, and it includes those used for printing business cards and other types of cards. A cardstock printer is also comes handy for this type of work.

Brightness and opacity of the paper stock

The opacity or amount of light that is able to pass through the paper can be extremely important depending on what you are using the paper for. The more translucent the paper is the more light will show through it. The way it is categorized is by percentage and the higher the number the less amount of light that will be allowed to shine through it. The opacity of paper is affected by a number of variables during the manufacturing process. If you choose a coated paper it will likely have a 100% opacity rating. On the other end of the spectrum, tracing paper will have a number closer to zero.

The brightness of the paper depicts the amount of light that reflects off the surface of the page. It is expressed in a percentage, which is shown in a range from 0 to 100. You will typically find paper rated from 60-90 range. However, when you are wanting your text or the colors that are in your images to really pop, you want to have the paper that has a brightness number as close to 100 as possible.

Don’t forget to consult the user manual of your printer regarding paper stock options

It is very important that you check out the user manual that came with your printer to see if the paper that you chose is fully compatible with your printer. This is extremely important because not all printers are fully compatible with certain types of paper and may not be able to handle certain thicknesses of paper or cardstock.

Note: Some printers even might require you to load thicker paper differently due to how the paper moves through the printer.

In conclusion, the paper can really make or break what your printing will look like. If you are looking to make a great first impression with what you are printing, you should always take the time to research the paper choices. As we mentioned earlier in the article, there are so many factors that come into play that will directly affect your final result.

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