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Printing Paper (How to buy Paper)
To get the most out of your printer, you need to know which paper best suits your needs. Many manufacturers have a line of papers that are made to work with their printers, but they all have the same basic paper traits. Understanding which paper traits to look for will ensure the highest quality prints.

What Paper is Out There

Multipurpose Paper
Multipurpose paper, also known as copier paper, is a lightweight paper used in a broad range of general office equipment. Multipurpose papers should be used when printing plain text documents or for all your fax and copier needs.

Inkjet Paper
Inkjet papers are specially designed to work with inkjet printers. Because inkjet printers spray droplets of ink onto paper, the paper needs to be able to absorb the ink evenly.

When looking for inkjet papers, you will find a selection of coated paper that will help in controlling ink absorption and improving print quality. Coated inkjet papers work best when printing higher quality prints (like presentations). Coated papers may be glossy to dull coated (matte) either on one side or on both.

Laser Printer Paper
Laser printers fuse toner to paper, so any paper used in laser printers needs to be able to withstand the high heat. This is especially important when using a color laser printer because a single sheet of paper will go through four layers of toner.

Most of these papers have anti-jamming and curling qualities. You will find laser printer paper will have higher brightness and heavier weight compared to multipurpose paper.

Specialty Paper
With today's choices of paper, you can pretty much print anything you design. You can find specialty paper to print iron-on transfers, greeting cards, brochures, address/shipping labels, photo stickers, temporary tattoos, etc. Just check your printing specifications on what paper it can handle.

Paper Traits to Look for

The brightness rating tells you the whiteness of the paper. To be more technical, brightness refers to the light reflecting property of paper. The more blue light reflected will give you a brighter paper. You will see a brightness rating of 80-100.

Some manufacturers will not give a number but give their products names like "Ultra Bright." Don't go by names because the name may not be an accurate measurement of the brightness of the paper.

Using the brightest papers will give you brighter colors but it's not the only factor to consider when printing. The colors you are using and the paper finish will determine how the final print will look (light colors can appear washed out on the brightest of papers.) Your best bet will be to compare several brightness levels before you commit to one. Your eyes will be the best judge on what will work for you and printing needs.

Weight & Thickness
The weight and thickness of paper go hand in hand because heavier paper will be a little thicker. Paper weight is not determined by a single sheet of paper but of the weight of a ream of paper (500 sheets).

When it comes to printing, paper weight and thickness doesn't affect the print quality but it does play a major role in the finished product. Using a thicker paper will give a printed document more of a professional feel then if you printed on flimsier paper.

If you are printing double-sided projects or images that will use a good amount of ink, use heavier paper because there will be less bleed through when there is heavy ink coverage.

For everyday printing, a 20lb paper will work just fine. For business printing, try looking for paper around 24lbs.

Before you make any purchase check your printer's specifications on what your printer can handle.

You should remember two things when you are shopping for paper -- the brightness and weight. The whiteness of the paper will affect the image being printed -- especially when printing in color. Heavier paper will provide more professional looking presentations.