What to Look for in Copy Paper

By Nicole Tinkham


Not all paper is the same. The type of paper you choose greatly impacts the result of your printed document. Believe it or not, there are several choices when it comes to copy paper – everything from size to brightness. In this post, we’ll discuss these options and more to help you choose the perfect copy paper for your office.

Types of paper

Copy paper is a wonderful choice for basic copies and faxes. It’s lightweight and inexpensive, ideal for in-office projects. However, you may want to consider your other paper options depending on your project.

MULTIPURPOSE PAPER: You can use this type of paper in any machine (fax machines, copiers, and printers), which is a huge benefit. Multipurpose paper is brighter than copy paper, resulting in sharper prints.

INKJET PAPER: Inkjet paper is ONLY for use in inkjet printers! This type of paper has a surface specifically designed for water-based inks (found in inkjet printers). Inkjet paper is a step up from multipurpose paper – you’ll get brighter colors and bolder text. For important documents such as presentations, consider a heavier weight inkjet paper (we will talk about paper weight later in this blog).

LASER PAPER: This paper is used in laser printers. Laser paper is smooth, allowing the toner to bond to the surface. A heavier, brighter laser paper is ideal for presentation and important documents, producing amazing colors.

COLOR COPY PAPER: This paper is made for vibrant color prints. If it’s professional-quality prints you’re after, this is the paper for you!


As you probably know, paper comes in various sizes. The most common size is 8.5” x 11” but larger sizes are available as well.


Brightness is often confused with the whiteness of the paper. However, the two are very different. The brightness is how much light the sheet reflects whereas whiteness refers to the shade of the paper (balanced white, warm white, and blue white are the most common). Brightness is measured by a number anywhere between 0 and 100, with 100 being the brightest. Why would you prefer a brighter paper? Brighter paper means sharper text and images resulting in a better print. The standard brightness is 92 but for presentation, a minimum brightness of 96 is recommended.


Typical office paper usually runs 20 to 32lb. For printing graphics, a heavier paper should be used as they tend to be better for high color saturation. See below for a description of each weight and what each is used for.

20lb – Copy paper used for everyday copy machines.

24lb – Multipurpose paper often used for business letterheads and stationary.

28lb – Heavier paper used for brochures and double-sided printing.

32lb – This is slightly heavier than 28lb paper. Also used for brochures and double-sided printing.

Heavier paper (often considered cover or card stock) is available as well. See our Understanding Paper Weights post for more information about these paper weights!

Other options

By now you may have your paper choices narrowed down but there are still a few options to consider.

RECYCLED: Recycled paper uses less water and energy with fewer chemicals. The paper performs the same as any ordinary paper so quality is not an issue when going green.

FINISH: When it comes to presentation or brochure paper, you may have a choice between glossy and matte finishes.

UNIT: Some paper is sold by the individual ream (500 sheets/ream) while others are sold by the carton. Letter and legal size paper contain 10 reams per carton while ledger size only has 5.

COLOR: Colored paper is useful for color coding and special projects.

It seems that paper is a never-ending topic. There’s copy paper, card stock, artist papers, photo paper, stationary, etc. As you can probably guess, there will be several more paper blogs in the future! Which type of paper do you want to learn about next?

2 thoughts on “What to Look for in Copy Paper

    1. Thanks for the input, Janet! We will feature a blog post on the various types of card stock in the near future! It’s so nice to hear you’re enjoying our blog posts, thanks for the support! 🙂

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