How to choose the right printer paper for your print job


The language of printer paper looks like an impenetrable field when looked at it for the first time. Glossy and matte, coated and uncoated, paper weight, paper stock. It’s a complicated equation. It can leave people venturing into the world of printing documents and promotional pieces wanting to throw in the towel. It might seem easier to go for standard office copy paper and be done with it.

But the truth is, certain paper is manufactured for certain jobs. To give customers and peers that impression of professionalism, there’s just no getting around looking into what paper suits what job type. Talking with the printing experts will help. However, having a little knowledge about the world of printing paper will help you feel confident in the outcome.

Choosing the right printing paper is also essential to the upkeep of your printer. By understanding the difference between types of paper, you can avoid a lot of printer maintenance work that user errors can cause. Paper jams can easily be avoided with a basic understanding of the paper types you should be using.

Paper Size Matters

The size of the document you’re printing is the beginning of the whole process. Understanding the size of paper needed for your work will be the difference between a professional looking piece and pure awkwardness. The standard size of copy paper is 8.5×11 inches, but printing paper comes in a variety of different sizes, ranging from postcards to large format printing sizes.

It’s best to choose paper that will best fit the dimensions of the document or image you’re planning to print. Too much ‘white space’, or empty space around the printed piece, or skewing of the document’s dimensions, will look strange and unpresentable. If your intended print job has odd dimensions that don’t fit paper sizes that are currently available, you might have to change the dimensions of the document or you may have to get specially cut paper from a local print shop.

What’s the Weight?

Weight is key to bringing that perfect look to your print job. It’s the difference between a flimsy business card and a sturdy card that survives the ‘back pocket test’ without creases and tears. Deciding on a weight might take a little research. The internet has a lot of guides on what weight of paper best suits different types of jobs.

Artwork and promotional items should be printed on paper stock with a heavier weight to help preserve their quality. Things like business cards and postcards should be on an even thicker paper, with the passing from hand to hand and frequent rough handling. Lighter weight paper should be used for documents that don’t need to be as sturdy, such as the inner parts of booklets, to avoid making completed printed works too heavy.

Be careful when changing the weight on a print job for the first time. Incorrect paper weight input can lead to jams that will leave you with a non-functioning machine. Double check your weight numbers and make sure they match the ones on the wrapper of your printing paper. Also, check to make sure your printer or copier can handle the weight of the paper you‘re trying to print on.

Finish for Effect

One of the biggest parts of choosing what paper to use is deciding on the finish. Finish makes or breaks the presentation of a document. It’s the finish that gives the receiver the impression that you know just what you’re doing when it comes to publishing documents and promotions. This is the part that should take a bit of time and research because there are no set rules. Depending on the type of piece you’re printing and the effect you want it to have on the person receiving it, the choice you make might be much different than that of someone else. A glossy business card gives a different effect than a matte business card. A satin poster gives a different impression than one with gloss!

There are some general rules about it all. Documents that are meant primarily for reading tend to be easier on the eyes with a matte finish. A satin gloss looks professional and holds up against fingerprints. Glossy printing is eye catching and brings out the colors in a more artistic or design-based print job. In the end, you’ll have to consider your intended response and the purpose of the piece to make a decision that best fits your needs.

More Than White?

Colored paper isn’t just for kindergarten classrooms. Select the right color of paper to print your document on and you’ll have a printed piece that’s eye catching and quickly marked as important in the mind of the receiver. It’s choosing the right color of paper that’s important to the overall presentation. Choose colors that complement each other. It should also be easy on a reader’s eyes if there’s important information on the document. Legibility should always come first.

How Bright?

Not all white paper has the same amount of brightness. There are different levels of ‘brightness’ you can choose from when selecting your paper. The brighter the paper, the more legible it will be and the more contrast your printed pieces will have. That doesn’t make brighter better, though. There’s a time and place for duller papers. What you choose will have to depend on how you want the colors of your document to stand out on the paper.

Printing is tricky, but navigating paper types isn’t impossible. Especially with the help of your local printing experts at Ford Office Technologies We provide printing solutions to local businesses every day of the work week. We’re well-versed in the world of printing projects, and can provide you with important advice on paper and printer choices to make sure you’re getting the most out of your printed work. Contact Ford Office Technologies and talk to one of our friendly staff members. We can help you get better printing results for your business today!

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