Choosing the Right Paper

Choosing the Right Paper

When it comes to choosing the right paper for the job, consider two key factors: the type of document you plan to create and the technology you plan to use.

Image and overall document quality depend on using the correct paper for the type of document you want to produce and the equipment you will be using. You’ll find descriptions of various paper types here, as well as criteria to help you determine which paper best meets your needs at this time.

Multi-Purpose Papers Multi-use or multi-purpose papers are the workhorses of papers. They are ideal for a broad range of general uses, performing reasonably well in all areas. Multi-Use or Multi-Purpose Paper Characteristic Checklist:

  1. Less expensive than specialty papers
  2. Performs adequately on all types of equipment
  3. Reasonable inkjet print quality
  4. Reasonable toner adhesion for laser printers and photocopiers
  5. Reasonable ink absorption for offset printing
  6. Available in 20-24 lb. weight
  7. Available in 84-90 brightness range
  8. Acceptable image quality for monochrome and draft-quality colour printing


Laser Papers Laser papers feature a number of unique qualities. First, laser paper must be able to withstand the high heat and toner formulations associated with the electrophotographic process (laser printing). Paper performance can also be affected by the equipment’s paper path (the path through which the paper passes during the imaging process). A number of product characteristics are built into laser-guaranteed products to prevent jamming and curling. You will often find laser paper in higher brightness (90+) and heavier basis weight ranges (24 lb+) than less expensive multipurpose sheets. The demands of colour laser printers are different than those of black and white printers. Why? When you use colour, you subject the paper to four layers of toner. With black and white printing, only one layer of toner is applied. For this reason, high-quality colour printing papers have a different set of product specifications. Laser Paper Characteristic Checklist:

  1. Withstands high heat and toner demands
  2. Anti-jamming qualities
  3. Anti-curling qualities
  4. High brightness (90+)
  5. Heavier basis weight (24 lb.+)


Inkjet Papers Inkjet papers are custom designed for inkjet applications, particularly full colour applications. They are surface-treated to ensure good text definition, low colour mottle (non-uniformity in the image colour), and minimal feathering. The surface treatment also acts as a barrier to control ink drop penetration. This maximizes the brightness of the colours. It also enhances the sheet’s smoothness, which affects image quality as well. Since there are so many different kinds of inkjet printers and ink formulations, designing an inkjet sheet that provides excellent image quality in all machines is tough. Be sure to read packaging instructions for both your equipment and the paper you are considering. Inkjet Paper Characteristic Checklist:

  1. Specifically for inkjet use
  2. Particularly good for full colour
  3. Good text definition
  4. Low colour mottle
  5. Minimal feathering
  6. Maximum colour brightness
  7. Smooth finish
  8. Proliferation of inkjet equipment means you must select paper carefully

Helpful Facts About Paper (PDF)