Paper for photocopiers and printers

Last month we considered some of the artifacts that companies are often confronted with during their business printing.

Typical anomalies which we highlighted included print artifacts, like banding and clogged nozzles, along with other, often less considered problems like the type of paper people use in their machines.  Often, many of these problems can be easily remedied with a little thought and planning.  In this blog we will give you some pointers about paper.

Initially, to ensure that you avoid any problems, look at what has been recommended by your model's manufacturer.  We now know that, the better quality of paper that you use, the more superior quality printouts you will receive. Ultimately, for best results, you should buy the coated or specialty paper, even though this is often more expensive than bog standard paper that is used by many offices.  So the familiar saying, "You get what you pay for," which means that if you want quality, you have to expect to pay for it, certainly rings true here!

This is especially true for photo printers, inkjets, and multifunction devices.  Speciality paper can cost as much as £1.50 per A4 sheet to as little as 30p, but if you want excellent, high-resolution photos or sharp looking text, it is essential.

If nothing else, try to use a slightly better quality paper known as '24-pound with a brightness rating of at least 95', available from many good stockists.

If you aren't sure what this means then the guide below can help.

There are basically only a few main differences in all papers, although the following do play a crucial role:brightness, weight, caliper, and finish.

Try to choose the right paper for your needs based on the following criteria and don't be afraid to see how a few different types of paper compare against each other.  In simple terms…buy the best that you can afford!


Paper weight is often expressed in either pounds (lb.) or as grams per square meter (g/m2). Different types of paper have their own weight scale. Most inkjet photo papers are known as 'bond' papers and are found in the 24 to 71 lb. (90 to 270 g/m2) range. Heavier paper often has much smoother fibres so that you get less 'wicking'.

Brightness Rating:

There are lots of different levels of whiteness or brightness. Brightness is usually shown as a number between 1 and 100 when buying. Paper suitable for photo printing usually comes within the high 90s. Not all papers are labelled with their brightness rating, so the best way to determine the brightness of the paper is by simple comparison of several papers side-by-side. Brighter paper delivers higher-contrast photos and sharper-looking text.


This simply means, 'How see-through is the paper?' The higher the opacity, the less printed text and images will 'bleed' through the paper to the other side. This factor needs to be born in mind if you do lots of double-sided printing.  Inkjet photo papers have a high opacity level, (94-97) compared to the ordinary inkjet or laser paper, so 'bleeding' is less likely with these papers.


Paper used for printing photos is usually heavier and thicker than typical multi-purpose papers. This thickness which is known as 'caliper', is essential to help with the higher ink coverage which is generally found in photos. Typical thickness for an inkjet printer may be anywhere from a thin 4.3 ml to a thick 10.4 ml paper. Photo paper is usually 7 to 10 mls.

Gloss Finish:

The coating on photo quality paper ensures that your printed photos have the look and feel of photographic prints. The coating will keep the paper from immediately absorbing the ink, although some glossy papers dry slowly. Quick-dry gloss finishes are a better choice and can be obtained easily from reputable stockists.  Typical descriptions of paper finish include; high gloss, gloss, soft gloss, or semi-gloss, and each one refers to the amount of shine. Satin is a less shiny coated finish.

Matte Finish:

Matte finish papers show a softer and non-reflective finish, rather than shiny. They aren't the same as the usual inkjet finish papers. Matte photo quality papers tend to be thicker and are specifically formulated for photos. Many of these sorts of paper can be printed on both sides.

General Tips:

When printing on glossy paper, check to see if all the colours look shiny or do the blacks perhaps look matte and flat? Do they appear bronze? Does the ink bleed too much on plain paper, making the photos look rather muddy?  Some experimentation may be needed to ensure you achieve the best results for your particular machine.  A good printer stockist should not only advise you on the machine, but also on the amount of ink it will use and the best paper to select, to give optimum performance.

  • Paragon Comment…

The variety of paper suitable for printing can seen overwhelming, and we, at Paragon are experts in the field of printing so we are here to help!   By using our experts to advise you every step of the way, from the initial consultation about which printer to opt for, to advice about the best inks and paper to use to suit your requirements, you won't go wrong with Paragon.  Why not contact us for information on how we can support you in either buying or renting, repairing or managing your print requirements? 

We guarantee to deliver you the best prices combined with a premium customer service. And don't forget that for every machine purchased, we plant a tree in the Amazon rainforest, to help to replace the paper we all use.

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