How to Choose the Right Printer Paper
Confused about what printer paper is right for your job? Here's our guide to help you choose.
These days every home office has a printer.
You don’t have to look far to find several types of printer paper available for different uses. The paper you use to print photos, for example, will differ from what you’d use for work print-outs.
It’s important to choose paper with the right weight to get the results you’re looking for. Printing that includes a lot of images, for example, should be done on paper at least a bit thicker than standard copy paper. For super high-quality images, buying specific photo paper is advisable.
Using the correct paper for your printer will help you avoid waste and save money on printer ink.
To help save you some time, I’ve put together this guide outlining the best types of paper for different uses. I’ll also cover some frequently asked questions about printer paper.
Best Paper for Inkjet Printing
Inkjet printing recreates digital images with ink droplets and plastic substrates. This type of printer is the most commonly used type. You’ll find models in all price ranges, from budget friendly to high-end choices.
Our top pick for inkjet printing paper is the HP Printer Paper | 8.5 x 11 Paper | All In One 22 lb | 1 Ream - 500 Sheets | 96 Bright | Made in USA - FSC Certified | 207010R. Made with renewable resources, this paper is acid-free to maintain quality over time.
The paper is whiter, brighter, and thicker than other types of multipurpose printing paper. Brighter paper leads to a crisper final result.
Best Paper for Photos
While you can print photos on ordinary paper, the images will never look as crisp as they do with photo paper. Our favorite type is the CanonInk Glossy Photo Paper.
This glossy, vibrant option gives you clear, high-quality pictures at an affordable price. Canon photo papers also use a coating that will absorb ink quickly to prevent smearing.
Best Paper for Color Printing
Color printing reproduces colored text or images rather than creating standard black and white results. Our favorite paper for color printing is the HP Printer Paper | 8.5 x 11 Paper | Premium 28 lb | 1 Ream - 500 Sheets | 100 Bright | Made in USA - FSC Certified | 205200R. This bright paper has heavyweight quality for premium full-color images.
The super smooth surface is dependable and has been optimized for HP technology. However, it will also work well with all standard printers.
Best Paper for Laser Jet Printing
Laser printing produces high-quality graphics and text using a laser beam. Note that laser jet printing can produce moderate quality photos, but won’t work as well as photo paper.
Our top pick for laser jet printing paper is the Hammermill Premium Inkjet and Laser Multipurpose Copy Paper. Made in the United States, Hammermill Multipurpose Paper is jam-free and offers bolder blacks, brighter colors, and faster drying ink.
Best Printer Paper for Documents
The best type of paper for printing text is ordinary lightweight paper. Our favorite option for documents is the Hammermill Copy Plus 20lb Paper.
This paper is made in the USA and guaranteed to be jam free. Hammermill paper is acid-free, preventing your sheets from turning yellow over time. It also helps ink dry faster than average so you’ll have fewer issues with smearing.
Photo Printer Paper Types
Photo paper is typically bleached and has a higher quality. It’s coated with wax so the ink stays in place and produces a super clear image.
You can choose from a variety of choices for photo paper depending on your needs. Popular options include matte, glossy, canvas, and woven photo paper.
We’ll look closely at a few of these below:
Glossy Photo Paper
Glossy photo paper, like the CanonInk Paper just mentioned above, has a reflective, smooth surface. This finish allows for the slick feel and high-contrast appearance of images printed on glossy photo paper.
Matte Photo Paper
Matte options for printing, such as the Canon 7981A004 Matte Photo Paper have a non-glare, smooth surface. Keep in mind, it produces a lower-contrast image than glossy paper.
People often choose matte photo paper to enhance a print’s texture. The Canon 7981A004 Matte Paper works great for paper crafts, displays, and greeting cards.
Canvas Photo Paper
Canvas photo paper uses a pronounced and decorative fabric texture. Due to its cloth-like look, this type of print is great for gift ideas, framing, and scrapbooking needs.
Our favorite type of canvas photo paper is PPD Inkjet Canvas Real Printable Cotton Sheets. This printable canvas is made with 100 percent cotton.
It has a light texture and a high-resolution coating for super clear images. You can print with your printer, or even pigmented or dye-based inks.
In addition to the types of paper already listed, you can find transfer photo paper, magnet sheets, textured photo paper, and sticker printer paper.
Frequently Asked Printer Paper Questions
Below, I’ll cover some common questions people have about printer paper:
Q: What is the difference between copy paper and printer paper?
Printer paper is thicker and a bit more expensive than copy paper. If you’re printing text documents, either type will work fine. The only difference will be how much light shows through the paper, which is related to its weight.
If you’re printing something with images, thicker paper is better. While you can print on non-printer paper, it will lead to a slightly wet, heavily saturated result. And the images won’t be as clear.
Q: Can you put photo paper in a normal printer?
Most recent computer printers allow you to use photo paper with printing. To find out whether yours has this capability, look at the instructions that came with your purchase. If it’s compatible with photo paper, there will be specific directions on how to print with it.
Q: What’s the maximum paper weight for Inkjet printers?
Inkjet printers can usually handle thicker paper, such as card stock. There is no limit for inkjet printers that applies to every model across the board.
If you need to know whether your printer accepts a certain weight of paper, look at the manufacturing instructions. Always check before attempting to put heavy paper through the machine, or you’ll risk damaging it.
Ready to Choose Some Paper?
Now you know a bit more about the best type of paper for different needs. Using thicker paper tends to result in a more professional look. It also works better for print-outs with a lot of images.
Always make sure the paper you’re using aligns with your printing goals before you print. Many home offices will benefit from keeping a few different types of paper on hand for this purpose. Thanks for reading!