What Are the Different Types of Printer Paper?

It can be frustrating going to a local department store or office supply store where there are various different types of printer paper to choose from with various sizes, brightness, and weights, especially if one doesn’t know what each different kind of paper is used for. This guide will discuss the various types of printer paper, specific paper that goes with specific printers, and the different facets to consider when choosing printer paper to help the buyer decide what printer paper is best.

Types of Printer Paper

There are various types of printer paper available, but not all of them are created for the same purpose. With the right paper, colors can become brighter, black text can stand out more, and a document is able to have quite an impact on the individual reading it. Knowing which type of paper is appropriate for which kind of print jobs can make it easier to select the right paper.

Matte Paper

Matte paper is best for everyday use. Matte paper is a kind of paper that has a white coating that allows the ink to dry quickly. Because the ink does dry so quickly on matte paper, it is unlikely to smear or become smudged with fingerprints.

Glossy Paper

Glossy paper is typically used for printing photos because the paper produces sharp, vibrant print due to its glossy finish. The glossy finish actually absorbs the ink to create beautiful pictures. However, it is easy to smudge the paper with fingerprints, so it is important to handle it gently until the freshly printed item has dried completely. Glossy paper can become stuck to pages that are against the printed side, so it is best to avoid using it in situations where it will be used that way, such as in scrapbooks. There is a specialized kind of glossy paper specifically designed for photo printing.

Photo Paper

Though glossy paper is primarily for photos and similar applications, photo paper is specifically designed just for photos. Photo paper has a glossy finish and it also allows the ink to dry quickly producing picturesque images. Photo paper usually comes in several sizes and weights.

Bright White Paper

Bright white paper can be printed on both sides. In fact, it is designed for double use. With smooth, non-textured surfaces, it allows the user to print on both sides without affecting the quality of the print. Because of its brightness, it is designed to make black text as well as other colors stand out on the page.

Resume Paper

When a buyer wants a document, resume, or important form to stand out in the stack,resume paper does the trick. Made heavier and more expensive looking than plain white paper, typically resume paper has a classy cream, ivory, or off-white appeal to it that tells employers and other professionals that the one who printed on this paper really means business.

Card Stock

Card stock is a very heavy and sturdy paper. It can be used as printer paper as well as for everyday use. Because of how heavy it is, card stock does not go through the printer as quickly as regular printer paper. Therefore cardstock is typically only used for scrapbooking, signage, and printing business cards or postcards.

Printer Paper Specific to Certain Printers

There are specific types of printer paper that are made specifically for certain kinds ofprinters. There is specialized paper for solid ink printers and printers that take rolled up paper, but the two of the best-known types of printer paper include the following:

Inkjet Paper

Inkjet paper is specifically made for inkjet printers. For example, there is photo paper, glossy paper, business card paper, and greeting card paper made specifically to go through an inkjet printer.

Laser Paper

The laser printer also has its own set of paper called laser paper. Laser paper is generally used if printing checks, address labels, or mailing labels as there are specific settings on the laser printer to assist with printing this paper.

To find out if printer paper can be used with a specific printer, be sure to read the packaging.

Various Facets of Printer Paper

It is important that one use the right paper for the right projects. When choosing printer paper, it is important to look at the various facets of the paper before buying. Coating, opacity, weight, smoothness, brightness, and other aspects of the paper come into effect when choosing the right paper.


There are various printer papers that are coated. Coated finished papers come in matte, dull, and smooth surfaces. The smooth surfaces are called glossy and are designed for printing photos. There are many uncoated printer papers that have no smooth or waxy coating. They may have various surface textures like linen embedded in them. When choosing printer paper, it is important that the buyer know what project he or she will use the paper for to choose the right coating.


Printer paper comes in various colors and brightness levels. The level of brightness of a particular type of paper is labeled on the package of paper. Typically brightness ranges from 80 to 100 with the higher number providing sharper images. The higher numbers also represent brighter paper. The contrast of the paper is a key element in the contrast with the toner or ink and the paper, and the whiter and brighter the paper is, the better a print will look.


Printer paper can also come in various weights which are the result of the thickness of an individual piece of paper. The thickness is calculated in pounds and grams. One can find the weight of the paper on the package of paper. The weight of the paper indicates what the paper is intended to be used for.

Paper Weight


Type of Paper

20 pounds or 75 grams Thinner paper used for everyday print and copy Bond paper
24 pounds or 90 grams Used for crisper images, less show through, and is better for double sided printing Mid-weight paper
40 pounds or 150 grams Used for signs, flyers, and when vivid color is required Poster paper, card stock

The paper weight refers to the weight of a 500-sheet ream of 17 by 22 inch paper in which each of the sheets is equivalent to four of the letter size sheets. Therefore, if 500 sheets of paper weighs 20 pounds, then the paper actually weighs five pounds. The higher the paperweight is, the thicker the paper is. The thicker the paper is, the more durable it is; but the thicker it is, the slower it goes through the printer. Standard 20 pound paper is for every day, high-volume use while heavier paper is used for presentations and other areas where quality is important.


Another facet to consider when choosing printer paper is the opacity. The opacity simply means how much print will show through to the other side. Opacity is measured from 0 which means transparent to 100 which means completely opaque. The opacity can be measured by how well the printer paper prevents light from passing through it. Standard paper at 20 pounds is more translucent while the heavier papers will be less likely to show print on the side that wasn’t printed on.


Smoothness can also be a factor when determining which paper to get. Laser printers for example use heat and toner to produce text and images, and therefore need asmooth paper to give good results, whereas many other printers use water based inks, and therefore, need textured paper to absorb the ink. The smoothness of the paper can be determined by whether or not the paper is coated as well as the material it is made out of.

Paper Size

Size really does matter when choosing printer paper. There are several sizes that are used in printers today. It is important to know what size paper is used for what type of project. The following table is a breakdown of various paper sizes and when to use them.

Paper Size

Type of Paper


8.5 by 11 inches Letter sizeprinter paper The size is commonly used for printing needs for those who write letters as well as everyday papers and standard documents.
8.5 by 14 inches Legal sizeprinter paper This type of printer paper is used for printing out documents that need a little extra length to fit text on a single page. This is the kind of paper size that is typically used by offices for important documents that must be signed. They are also used for wider format brochures.
13 by 19 inches Wide format printer paper This kind of paper is very versatile. It can be used by businesses to print out graphs and charts and by professional photographers to make large prints of their images.
17 by 22 inches Broadsheet format paper This type of printer paper measures two tabloid sized papers set side by side, or four letter sized papers set into a block. This type of paper size is comparable to a common newspaper and is ideal for this because it offers a long vertical page. Special printers are needed unless the paper is strategically folded for printing with a regular printer.
11 inches by 17 inches Tabloid printer paper This type of paper is used in tabloid print and is the size of two letter sized papers lined up together side by side. It is typically used by magazine companies or for self-publishing materials.

It is important for a buyer to know what project the printer paper is needed for in order to know what size will fit his needs.


There are various facets to keep in mind when purchasing printer paper. Printer paper is made in different weights, sizes, opacity, coating, smoothness, and brightness to give the buyer options depending on the project he or she is doing. The project is what tells the buyer what type of paper to buy, but remember, there are certain types of paper that only work with specific printers. So be sure to check the printer paper package to ensure the paper can be used in your printer. Tailoring the paper to your specific needs ensures your project stands out from the crowd in any situation.


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