How to Choose Paper for Inkjet Printer

It is the biggest disappointment when you buy a new printer with frills and it does jam paper. You call technical support and when they say they have no idea how to mend it, you write condemning comment and head for a new device. The thing you have forgotten in this fuss is the paper you used.

There are several moments you should understand about paper: the quality of your printed project depends on paper brightness, opacity, weight, texture and edge trimming.

Does really brightness make difference?

It really does matter! Brightness of a paper sheet shows how white it is and effects contrast of your printout and the way text or document is perceived. When the level of brightness is low, white background will look like either greyer or slightly yellowed, while black symbols will not be deep enough. When choosing paper pay attention to the scale of brightness that can be of 3 kinds: TAPPI, ISO and D65. The first one is the North American standard and is restricted within 0-100 point scale. When testing paper brightness according to TAPPI it means the sample was illuminated with artificial light and some filtered daylight from one angle only. ISO standard presupposes the scale can slightly overrun 100-point while the sample was illuminated with artificial light and some filtered daylight from various angles. D65 standard allows index of brightness can easily overrun 100-point and means that the sample was illuminated with north sky daylight. As the light while testing is different, a paper sheet with different standard indexes may look alike under the same illumination. The lowest acceptable index of brightness is 80, while average is about 95.

Correspondence of the brightness standards

TAPPI BRIGHTNESS (GE)              ISO BRIGHTNESS                   D65 BRIGHTNESS
84                                                    84                                             85
88                                                    91                                             98
92                                                    95                                             106
96                                                    100                                           113
98                                                    102                                           117

So if you want your lights to be light, while blacks to be black, you should take your voice for higher brightness grade.

Paper opacity

It is one of the most significant criteria while selecting paper for double-sided printing. Opacity defines the ability of paper to pass light and make text or image that is printed on the reverse side of the sheet visible. Opacity is measured in percentage with 80% being the lowest acceptable point (though, it depends on your goals). However, sometimes a manufacturer will not feature the scale but just indicate its product as low-, medium-, or high-opacity paper.


The reason why you should take paper weight into account is that the thicker paper appears to be more business-like and the same time wear-proof, so you can use the same copy for longer period of time. Paper weight is also known as thickness and is measured in pounds(lb), grammes per meter(g/m2 or gsm) or points(pt). To help you orientate yourself in all these lb, gsm and pt, I’ll try to explain how we get them. While weighing a ream of paper or 500 sheets of it we in most cases get pounds (lbs), though depending on a manufacturer it may also be kilograms (kg). To get grammes per meter results specialists measure two dimensional height and width of one square meter (usually hypothetical) of a single sheet. Points you will get when measuring a ream in inches.

Paper suitable for office should have at least 20lb bond/50lb text or 3.8pt or 74gsm while acceptable for double-sided printing paper sheet has 31lb bond/80lb text or 6.1pt or 118 gsm.


Paper sheets can be of different surfaces that affect the quality of imprint. Paper can be smooth, grained or pebbled, silk (glossy) or matte. For text printing it is better to use smooth paper and silk or matte finish for photo printing.

Edge trimming

This is not actually a characteristic of paper but rather an aspect describing how it was processed. Nevertheless, it is crucial for your printer as if when trimming edges of several sheets were smashed together, your printing device will hardly avoid jamming. You will not find any indications on the packaging and the only way is just to try it.

So now you have some food for thought and pay attention to signs on the packing.

By Lana Nikis