How to Choose the Right Paper and Look

Taking Control

Printing your own helps lower your costs and, more significantly allows you to prepare materials that have a much greater impact on their reader. The most basic letter can become a simple and elegant document. You can accomplish startling results by mastering a few software basics using a P.C. and a laser or inkjet printer. Your choice of paper, envelope and presentation materials can dramatically enhance the look and feel of your finished document.

Easy to Use

The templates are pre-formatted and you use them by simply dropping in text in the spaces provided. They can be modified to suit your needs or you can easily create your own. Specially formatted templates for our card and cover stock products can be download here.

Choosing Paper

Once you've created your masterpiece, the next decision you need to make is the paper you feel will best present you, your company and your message. Regular copy paper works just fine and it's very inexpensive. When your message is particularly important, though, you'll probably want it to look its best.

You should choose the paper products appropriate to your printer that will give you good print quality and are equipment safe.

When choosing paper, look for:

Laser and Inkjet Certification

To avoid the need to become a technical expert, look for products that are clearly identified by the supplier as laser and inkjet products. Statements such as "laser or inkjet compatible" may be misleading and you should, in any case, rely on a reputable Office Products Dealer who will stand behind these products.


A smoother printing surface will provide a better output quality. The toner may not bond correctly over uneven surfaces and characters may be distorted over imperfections in the paper.

Papers traditionally chosen because of the "feel" will produce undesirable results because of their surface texture.


Most printers can easily can easily handle paper up to a card stock weight of 65lb. Paper is described by its basis weight and that can get very confusing.

A 24 lb bond is the weight of 500 sheets of paper that measure 17" x 22". As a rule of thumb, the thickness, or caliper of 20 lb bond 4.0 mils (thousands of an inch); 24lb, 5 mils; 28 lbs, 6 mils. You may also see paper weight ratings as xx lbs. Offset, Cover or Text weight. These measures are quite different and imply a different thickness of paper. Ask your Office Products Dealer for its equivalency.

Recycled Paper

High quality recycled paper provides excellent results.


Labels and envelopes contain adhesives that deserve special mention. They are the most serious contaminant of a laser printer and the damage they cause is very expensive to repair. Envelopes and labels must use an adhesive which can withstand at least 200 degrees Centigrade. Otherwise, they begin to seep and attach themselves to the rollers and other mechanisms inside the printer. Inkjets

Inkjet printers apply ink in liquid form to the paper. The ink needs to dry to the touch before the second sheet is printed to avoid smearing and ink transfer to the second sheet. The drying process is affected by the porosity of the paper used. The more porous the paper, the more rapid the drying time. If the paper is too porous, dot gain occurs and the characters swell and distort in size. The paper acts as a blotter. When the paper is less porous, the ink is not absorbed quickly enough and smearing occurs.

Most paper made to xerograpic standards will produce acceptable results; recycled paper may cause uneven printing if the porosity of the recycled pulp is different than that of the virgin pulp. You will need to try different papers before you can settle on one that provides you with acceptable results. Most inkjet printers will accept up to 28lb bond papers. Heavier stock will stress the components and may cause jams.


Laser Printers

Laser printers are the preferred printing option. A wider variety of paper types will produce excellent results and you can more easily print on different sized papers, envelopes and labels. Similar to photocopiers, laser printers form characters by applying toner to the paper. In the final stage, a fusing roller permanently bonds the toner under very high heat. Laser printers usually run much hotter than copiers and are more sensitive to moisture content, paper coatings and adhesives (in envelopes and labels).

The road ahead

We have encountered just about every printing problem with paper and labels. Most lasers we have tested are tolerant of mild abuse; knowing the basics will allow you to do some amazingly creative work with little risk to your equipment or pocket book. The cost of specialty papers including envelopes and labels is relatively high on a cost per sheet basis. The investment in quality and appearance means everything if your proposal is accepted or if the rÈsumÈ you sent results in an invitation to an interview. Please take a moment to fill the brief questionnaire.Your input helps us deliver the new products you need.

Neat Ideas!


Bar codes

A variety of business applications require the use of Bar Codes such as UPC-A, I 2 of 5, Code 39, etc. Software is available from a number of sources to generate this symbology. For small runs, printing these on laser printer is very cost efficient, practical and fast. If you are applying a label over an existing bar code, ensure that the label is very opaque. Some laser scanners are smart enough to read the first and the second label simultaneously.

Choosing acceptable papers based on thickness

The most important factors in selecting a laser paper are smoothness, for print quality; thickness,to avoid paper jams and moisture content,to avoid curl caused by the heat of the fusing roller.

Inkjet papers are selected for controlled ink absorption to reduce dot gain and ink smudges, and thickness to reduce jams.

Paper mills use different methods of establishing a basis weight for their papers based on the finished sheet size for its likeliest application.

As a result, basis weights are very confusing. We have converted all weights in the chart below to their bond or "writing" equivalent.

Some laser printers are very forgiving of the mild abuse of intermittent use of thicker paper stocks. Please use the straight through paper path for more trouble free printing.

Thickness Chart