Monthly PC Tips

Choose the Right Printer Paper

January 2012 – by Per Christensson

Contrary to popular belief, not all printer paper is the same. In fact, the paper your put in your printer can drastically affect the quality of the prints. I'm not just talking about the difference between plain paper and photo-quality paper. Even the difference between different types of plain printer paper can be significant.

Many companies offer a low-priced type of printer paper called "multipurpose" paper. This is really "no purpose" paper, since it is not designed for a specific type of ink. The word "multipurpose" is actually a euphemism for "cheap quality," since it is the worst type of printer paper. I have yet to see any multipurpose paper produce quality color or black and white prints.

When buying printer paper, you should get the kind of paper designed for your printer. If you are like most consumers and have an ink jet printer at home, get paper designed for ink jet printers. Most companies offer at least one type of ink jet paper, though some are better than others. I've been happy with HP's Bright White Ink Jet paper, which has a brightness rating of 97. While 500 sheets might cost you $12.00 rather than $6.00, the difference is well worth the price. Each page that comes out of your printer looks like a professional document, rather a cheap amateur effort. If you're a student, your paper will appear better to your teacher and might even earn you a higher grade. If you're a job-seeker handing out resumes, the higher quality paper will provide a better first impression and may help land you the job. That's worth $0.01 per page if you ask me.

It follows logically that if you have a laser printer, you should buy laser printer paper. Just like ink jet paper, there are several types of laser printer paper available. I would stay away from the cheapest ones, since they are almost identical to multipurpose paper. You should be able to get good laser printer paper for around $8.00 or $9.00.

Choosing the right paper doesn't only produce better prints, it can also help your ink cartridges perform better. From my experience, multipurpose paper causes my ink cartridges to bleed and smudge over time, while specific ink jet paper keeps them running clean. The same can be said for the toner cartridges in laser printers. Since printer problems are one of the most common technical issues that arise in office environments, anything you can do to keep the office printer running smoothly is helpful.

If you've used multipurpose paper all your life, you don't know what you're missing. I recommend at least trying higher quality paper when your current paper supply runs out. Once you've experienced the difference, I have a feeling you won't go back.

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