Printer, Computer, & Copy Paper

Copy Paper – Usually a lightweight paper that is used in copy machines also known as reprographic paper, copier paper, dual-purpose, or xerographic paper. It’s generally thin with a small amount of transparency. The grade of the paper is determined by brightness levels which is how light is reflected from the paper. It is the largest category in the uncoated commodity printing paper grade and many governments use it for all of their laser printing, fax, and copier needs. U.S. copiers most frequently use 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper, but other sizes are available such as 8-1/2″ x 14″ and 11″ x 17″.

Paper weight is specified by basis weight in pounds (# or lb.). The most frequently used copier paper has a basis weight of 20 lbs. Thickness (caliper) is measured in ten thousandths of an inch. Most printing equipment is calibrated with a certain thickness.

Check out the PDF on Copier Paper

Recycled Copier Paper

About 9 percent of the copy paper used in the U.S. is made with recycled fibers. Recycled copier paper is virtually indistinguishable from non-recycled, with similar performance, color and cost.

Printer Paper

Can be any kind of paper that is used in computer printers. Some common examples include laser paper, inkjet paper, and photo paper. Printer paper is available in matte and glossy finishes.

Matte paper has a bright white coating that dries quickly and is recommended for everyday printing.

Glossy paper has a shiny coating that absorbs ink for spontaneous drying. Glossy paper is commonly used for printing photographs, posters, and other images.

Inkjet Paper

Inkjet printers can print on a variety of paper types. It is best to choose a paper based on what you are printing. For example, plain copier paper is usually best for printing emails or other common documents. It provides good results and is relatively inexpensive. If you will be printing in color, a coater paper is usually recommended because it allows for sharper colors and a higher resolution image.

Specialty inkjet papers are available. Common examples include photo paper, glossy paper, business cards, and greeting cards.

Laser Paper

Although similar to inkjet paper, laser paper is specially designed for the toner used in laser printers. Specialty types of laser paper such as checks and labels are also available.

Photo Paper

Printing photos from a computer has become popular due to the increased use of digital cameras and the low cost of high-quality inkjet printers. Photo paper offers the best results for this type of printing and produces sharp, clear images.

Photo paper has a glossy finish that allows the ink to dry quickly and produces sharp images. Many companies sell photo paper in several sizes and weights, with the 4″ x 6″ size being one of the most common. This size is great for printing photos from your home printer.

Computer Paper

Frequently used to describe any type of paper that is used with computer printers. Aside from the types listed above, it also refers to the continuous sheets of paper that are used in dot matrix printers. This type of computer paper may be completely white or have green stripes to ease the reading of data. Both single-part and multi-part computer paper formats are available.

Copy paper and printer paper have many different properties that affect the quality of the output. Choosing the right paper will ensure that you get the results that you are looking for. Listed below are the four main paper qualities.

Paper Properties


Paper weight refers to the weight of a 500-sheet ream of 17″ x 22″ paper. Each of these sheets is equivalent to four letter size sheets. Therefore, 500 sheets of standard 20# paper weighs 5 pounds. The higher the paper weight, the thicker the sheet of paper. Higher weight paper is more durable and has a more substantial feel. It also allows less light to pass through. Standard 20# paper is used for everyday printing and copying, and for high-volume needs. Heavier paper is used for presentations and other applications where quality is important.


Contrast is a key element between the toner or ink and the paper. The whiter the paper the better your copies will look. Most paper will have a brightness rating between 80 and 100. Higher numbers represent brighter paper.


Opacity is a measure of how well a material prevents light from passing through it. Standard 20# copier paper is somewhat translucent, while heavier papers are more opaque.


Paper textures vary by application. Laser printers and copiers use heat and toner to produce text and images. They require a smoother paper for crisp results. Inkjet printers, on the other hand, use water-based ink. They benefit from textured paper which allows the ink to dry faster, reduces bleeding, and produces sharper output.

The above factors are the most important to consider when choosing paper for your projects. Be sure to use the right paper for your machine. When choosing copier paper, weight and brightness are most important. For inkjet and laser printers look at opacity and smoothness. If you will be printing images or creating publications, choose a heavier weight paper with extra brightness. Special photo, greeting card, and other specialty papers are also available.