What You Need to Know About Printer Paper

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What you don’t know about printer paper can’t hurt you. But it could hurt your printer, and it can certainly make or break the quality of your print jobs. Here’s a rundown on the different factors you should consider when shopping for printer paper.

Paper Weight

Printing paper comes in a variety of different weights. In this case, the weight refers to the thickness of the individual sheets in a ream. The most commonly used printer paper weight is 20 pound, also known as 20#.

You can always find this kind of printer paper at local office supplies stores and even at the grocery store. It’s available in a variety of package sizes, from smaller packages of 50-100 sheets to full reams of 500, and you can even buy it in bulk in a “bale,” or a box of 10 reams. On average, bales range in cost between $25 and $30. This type of printer paper is ideal for quick draft prints, but if you’re interested in achieving a higher quality output it’s best to go with a heavier weight, or thickness.

Typical paper weights range from 20# to 32# and can extend as high as 110# for card-stock. If you plan on using a printer to create professional documents, newsletters, signs and flyers, the general rule is the heavier the paper the better the overall finish and quality. Color also shows up better on heavier paper and is ideal for printing on both sides of a sheet without risking bleed-through. Keep in mind that using paper that’s too thin can also cause paper jams, especially on high volume print jobs. This frequently results in wastes of paper and time.

Photo Printing Paper

These days, the average color printer is capable of reproducing high quality digital photographs. Using low quality paper to print photographs, however, can give you a substandard result even with the best equipment. If you’re interested in printing photographs, you’ll need to purchase the right kind of paper. Typically, this comes in a glossy finish, but you can also purchase matte photo paper that will show off bright colors and shadows. Matte paper is known for producing photos that last longer, but ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference.

In addition to being less susceptible to yellowing with age or exposure to the sun, wood-free printer paper has a tendency to last far longer. If you’re using a printer to print high quality images, going wood-free with your paper type could ensure greater longevity and will reduce the need to produce reprints in the near future.

Bear in mind that photo printer paper is thicker than standard printer paper, and as a result it has a tendency to become jammed if you feed more than one sheet at a time into your printer. As a best practice, avoid jams by manually feeding single sheets of paper when printing photographs.

Inkjet Printer Paper vs. Laser Printer Paper

Inkjet printers spray ink onto the page; laser printers use a powder called toner. While some may argue the pros and cons of the differing technologies, there’s one topic on which few people in the know differ. That’s the need to match each printer type with the paper that was made specifically for it.

When you use laser printer paper on an inkjet printer, the outcome can be slightly blurred or fuzzy edges from the ink soaking in and spreading. Inkjet printer paper is made with a special coating that takes the ink without soaking it up like a sponge. The coating on inkjet paper also fosters faster drying, preventing things like ugly smudges that can mar an otherwise professional document.

Laser printers generate a higher level of heat than their inkjet counterparts. For this reason, laser printer paper is manufactured to withstand slightly higher temperatures. When you use coated inkjet printer paper on a laser printer, you’re not only risking a poor quality print job but you’re also putting your printer at risk of damage from melted bits of coating.

Choosing the right kind of printer paper depends greatly on how you intend to use it. Bear this in mind before spending any money on a box of printing paper you might later regret having purchased.



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