Finding the Best Printer Paper for Your Printer Type

A Printer Paper Buying Guide by Staples

Whether printing day-to-day documents for work, presentations for clients or professional-quality photos for display, you’ll want to select the best printer paper for the job. From daily emails to projects that exude professional printing quality, using paper geared to your type of printer can save on costs and produce superior print results.

Printer paper that isn’t suited to your printer type can result in poor-quality documents and possible damage to the printer:

  • Text/images may appear smudged, faded or blurry
  • Photos may turn out grainy and display poor colour accuracy
  • Machines can become jammed
  • Paper wastage and/or volume printing can increase overall costs

On the other hand, using a recommended paper will produce clear, crisp and high-quality text, images and photos.

In This Buying Guide:

Customer Snapshot
Selecting the Right Printer Paper (Chart)
Features to Consider
Printer Paper Tips for Home
Printer Paper Tips for the Office
Key Questions
Related Products

Customer Snapshot

Depending on where you work or the type of personal printing you do regularly, your printer and paper type will vary. From a bustling office with an all-in-one printer that’s always in use, to a home with a basic printer that gets dusted off once in a blue moon, everyone requires paper that will do the job properly.

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A home, home office or small office with a basic or all-in-one inkjet printer will require either inkjet paper or copy/multipurpose paper. This will ensure ink is properly distributed onto each page, and the printer won’t go through jams that harm productivity. Using the right paper not only helps you avoid printer jams, but can prolong the life of your printer.

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If a laser printer is what’s available at home or in the office, then laser printer paper or copy/multipurpose paper will be required for the best results.

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The creative firm, printing house, graphic designer or engineer likely uses a digital laser printer that prints on paper up to 12 x 18 inches in size. They may also benefit from a wide-format printer or plotter, which uses specialty wide-format paper. From posters to blueprints, this type of paper is a must for many large-scale projects.

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Photographers, marketing firms or the consumer who’s a photo enthusiast will enjoy specialty photo paper for use in either an inkjet or portable photo printer.

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Selecting the Right Printer Paper

The printer paper you purchase will depend on the type of printer you own, the environment you work in and the type of materials you print. In this chart, you’ll learn about common printer types and the printer paper that works best.

Feature Inkjet Printer Laser Printer All-in-One Printer Wide-Format Printer/Plotter
Printer Features
  • Utilize inkjet technology to spray ink onto paper smoothly and quickly
  • Print on a wide variety of media and produce sharp, clear colours and text
  • Produce professional-quality photos superior to those a laser printer can print
  • Utilize a powdered ink called toner
  • Come in monochrome and colour models to best suit your printing requirements
  • Ideal for clear, crisp text documents and colour documents (such as graphs, charts and graphics)
  • Will not produce high-quality photos
  • Combine three or four machines in one, including printer, copier, scanner and fax machine
  • Economize on space and budget, making them ideal for home offices and small offices
  • Come in inkjet, laser and wide-format models
  • Range in size from compact models that print on 11 x 17-inch sheets of paper to large versions (plotters) that range between 18 inches and 100 inches
  • Come in inkjet or laser models
  • Ideal for printing highly detailed jobs such as posters, maps, blueprints and building plans and for use with computer-aided design (CAD) programs
Recommended Paper
  • Inkjet paper is designed specifically for use with inkjet printers. It’s specially made to absorb the liquid ink used in the printing process for quick drying and smudge-free results
  • Specialty photo paper comes in a range of finishes that give photos a professional lab-quality look
  • Copy paper and multipurpose paper are versatile, affordable options for everyday use
  • Laser printer paper is made to withstand the heat produced by this type of printer during the printing process. It holds toner better than copy or multipurpose paper, producing high-quality documents
  • Copy paper and multipurpose paper are versatile, affordable options for everyday use and are also compatible with laser printers
  • Copy paper and multiuse paper are versatile, cost effective choices that work in all types of machines; also consider specialized paper for the printer type (inkjet or laser)
  • Wide-format paper often has a high colour gamut and excellent colour density ideal for panoramic photos and system diagrams
  • Modern paper is also laminate-ready so that photos and printed diagrams last longer
  • Many feature rapid-drying technology

Features to Consider


Weight refers to how thick or heavy the paper is. Printer paper weight is measured in pounds (lbs) and based on a pack of 500 sheets. Generally speaking, heavier paper denotes durability and quality, and is well-suited to professional correspondence and frequent-use items. Make sure your printer can handle various paper weights if required.

  • Standard Weight – 20 lbs – Standard text documents, drafts, printed emails
  • Mid Weight – 22-32 lbs – Proposals, presentations, resumes, double-sided printing
  • Heavy Weight – 65-110 lbs – Signs and flyers, home business documents for distribution or display, double-sided printing


Paper finish describes the surface or texture of the printer paper and adds visual interest to your work. It affects both the look and feel of paper as well as its absorbency and printability. Smooth finishes are ideal for general office printing as they resist jams and ink spreads more consistently. Textured paper can add elegance and prestige. Again, ensure your printer type can handle the finish you choose.


Opacity is the amount of light that passes through copy paper. Look for paper with higher opacity to prevent print from showing through onto the reverse side. This is especially helpful for double-sided document printing (duplexing).

Printer Paper Tips for Home

Personal Use

When printing for personal use at home – think dinner reservations, concert tickets, personal notes, directions, recipes and more – you’ll likely only need copy or multipurpose paper, which is compatible in both laser and inkjet printers. This paper is an affordable option when you need good quality paper but don’t require a more professional look. Multipurpose paper is sufficient for most homework, however if you’re printing a presentation or final assignment, you might want to look into heavier paper.

Lower Volume

Most homes print at a lower volume than businesses, unless you’ve got a home office. With lower volume printing, you might choose to opt for multipurpose paper that is versatile and affordable, or go for a higher quality paper that won’t break the bank when you’re only printing occasionally. Look for packages of paper with a lower ream count (sheet count) if you plan to print only every now and then.

Basic Functionality

Generally speaking, home printers are typically used for basic printing only. If this is the case with your laser or inkjet printer at home, then you likely won’t have to worry about purchasing specialty paper like cardstock, photo paper, textured paper or other similar types. Opt for simple and affordable inkjet or laser printer paper, or multipurpose paper that can be used in either type of machine.

Standard Documents

If you’re printing standard documents at home, then you’ll most likely be able to stick to letter-sized paper, which is 8.5 x 11 inches. You can also stick to white paper, unless you like to add some colour to your personal printing materials. In that case, look for a multipurpose paper available in a single or multi-colour pack.

To learn more about the best paper for home printer use, check out this guide.

Printer Paper Tips for the Office

Variety of Users and Uses

In an office, especially a large office, there may be a number of people and departments that need to print on a daily basis. While HR may require basic black and white text documents, the marketing department might need to print colourful flyers, proposals or brochures. In this case, it is important to stock up on whatever specialty paper is required for your business, keeping it close by the printer. As always, make sure that the paper you need is compatible with the printer you have.

More Volume

With more users comes a higher print volume. If you print mainly internal documents, then multipurpose paper is the most cost-effective option for high-volume printing. If you require a more formal appearance for client print-outs or specialty printing, it is important to keep heavier paper on hand. Ensure that you purchase enough of each type of paper, keeping it organized near the printer so that employees can easily print what they need to without worrying about running out of paper.

Professional Quality

If you produce marketing materials, brochures, presentations and image-heavy documents that require professional printing quality, opt for specialized printer paper designed to produced vibrant, professional-looking results. If your business designs invitations, cards, corporate communication materials and more, consider paper thickness and finish to convey your message. A company that produces this type of printing is likely equipped with the right printer for the job, but always ensure the printer can handle the type of paper you want to work with.


For volume printing of interoffice documents and emails, multipurpose paper is a cost-effective choice. Monochrome laser printers also cut back on toner costs if your business is not one that requires colourful graphics in your materials – if this is the case, laser paper is a good option.

Read this Office Paper Guide to learn more about important printer paper considerations for the office.

Key Questions

Now that you know which types of paper work best with various printer types, you should have a good idea of the type of printer paper you require for your own use. To further narrow in on the printer paper that will work for you, be sure to answer the following questions:

  • The obvious one: What type of printer do I have?
  • If you don’t already have a printer: What type of printer do I want?
  • Will I be printing mainly in colour or black and white? A mix of both?
  • Will I be printing text documents or photos and brochures?
  • Will I be printing large-format items like posters and banners?
  • Will my printed documents be used internally or will they be displayed?
  • If displayed, is there a certain quality expected by my customers or audience?
  • What size of paper do I need?
  • How much will I be printing?

Answering these questions should allow you to make an informed decision on the type of printer-compatible paper you should choose. Remember to first start with the type of printer you have, and go from there depending on budget, finish, size and more.

Once you have selected your paper, be sure to read its reviews to be certain it’s the right paper for you and your printer.

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