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Paper: It Covers Rocks and Beats Scissors. These are Facts.
Last updated: 19 Oct 2021
I was surprised to hear that paper has become the hottest work from home commodity in the last year. We’ve got all this technology literally at our fingertips but according to Amazon, the humble 500 sheet printer ream has been the best-selling office supply throughout the pandemic. Michael Scott would be proud.
Last spring, we were sent home with laptops, but not with printers and in the scramble, many found themselves suddenly grappling with different types of printers, papers, and the dreaded ink cartridge. We traded traffic jams for paper jams. Truly understanding for the first time how much we had taken that top-of-the-line, ready-stocked office printer for granted.
We’ve all been victim to paper that gets caught in the printer, tears when you try to pull it out, pulls multiple pages instead of the single one you programmed and seems to have a sort of sentient awareness of the worst possible moment to misbehave. In plotting our downfall, AI has nothing on paper. As in any good action film, there is bad paper, and then there is good paper, the paper that’s on our side. It believes in us and it only wants to help. The problem is telling the difference. How do you know what properties are important to you when making your paper purchase?
HP bright white paper is exactly that, bright white. This paper is thick and of high quality. Best used for formal correspondence, invitations, and color prints. Heavyweight, it’s not recommended for casual printing.
Environmental considerations: Climate Pledge Friendly. Certified by the FSC. Contributes toward satisfying credit MR1 under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
Amazon’s basic paper is thin, with a low brightness rating and a tendency to jam. It reports to work in inkjets and laser printers as well as copier and fax machines, but can jam and is thin and flimsy. Great for scrap paper, and you can print on both sides, so that’s a plus.
Environmentalconsiderations: Amazon’s paper doesn’t appear to hold the Amazon Climate Friendly pledge. Is that irony or tragedy?
High brightness and an okay thickness, this a pretty good standard paper for everyday use. It comes pre-punched with three holes which is a time saver. It might be a bit flimsy, with some difficulty printing on both sides, depending on content and printer type but all in all. Not bad.
Environmentalconsiderations: Climate Pledge Friendly. Certified by the FSC.
Price: currently unavailable for 10 reams (5000 sheets)
Weight: 20 lb
Paper Finish: Acid-free
Size: 8.5 x 11 inch (A4)
Printer type: N/A
This paper is a bit light on information. As a copy paper, I presume it can be used on inkjet and or laser printers, but it doesn’t confirm that anywhere online, and I like details to be clarified as clearly as possible. Their website claims an overall green police, but they don’t appear to have any third-party verification on their environmental standard. For a standard paper to keep around the office this paper seems solid and dependable, with a good weight and brightness.
For the green crusader out there this a good everyday use. It boasts three times the recycled materials for roughly the same price as a similar paper with less environmental street cred. The paper is a bit thin, and not great for double-sided printing, which I would consider a problem, but maybe you wouldn’t.
You may have issues with the plastic packaging, but then other brands had complaints about water damage to the paper because of flimsy wrapping. This one is up to you, but it certainly isn’t environmentally friendly to order paper only to have to throw it out because it got damaged in transit.
A larger issue is the slightly misleading advertising, a ‘ream’ is 500 pages, not 400. A fifth less product than expected is an unpleasant surprise.
Environmentalconsiderations: 100 percent recycled, no third-party verification that I could find.
Printer type: Compatible with Canon i9100 and i9900 printers
A solid product for a matt print of a fav photo. This particular photo paper only allows for one-sided printing and picking the front from the back can be something of a challenge. If your picture comes out a bit duller than you thought it would, you might have picked wrong. The photo won’t look anything like the quality you would get from a professional developer but it’s still pretty good and definitely a step up from standard card stock. An affordable way to get beautiful pictures. For a more photorealistic finish try the glossy photo paper.
Paper math, here’s a treat. The term ‘lbs’ (referring to the pound) and is a method used to determine the thickness of the paper. The paper mill will weigh 500 sheets (known as a ream) in its original uncut size and voila, they now know how thick each sheet is. Sort of. The higher the number the thicker the paper. Bond and text paper will weigh between 20lb and 80lb, card or cover stock between 65lb and 140lb.
Disappointingly you won’t always get an accurate idea of the paper's actual thickness until you have it in your hand. That’s because the paper is weighed before it is coated. Depending on the type of coating the paper might feel thicker or even thinner as the fibres can be compressed down during the coating process.
Uncoated stock typically absorbs more ink, and the effect is often softer and more muted. Giving it an earthier, more natural feel. Coated paper comes in a range of finishes: matte, semi-gloss, and silk matte laminate. Coated is more durable and gives a zesty pop to the color.
Most standard office paper terms itself “acid-free” which seems like a plus. I like the idea of not having acid on my printer paper, but what does this mean exactly? And why do all the paper brands seem so proud of it? Acid-free paper is more durable and it doesn’t yellow as easily. Under normal usage and storage conditions, acid-free paper will last 200 years. A high acid paper for example is a newspaper (the paper, not the subject matter.) It will survive a measly 20 years and only if carefully stored. Don’t worry though, the acid isn’t dangerous. Unless consumed. Not that many make a habit of eating paper.
Paper brightness refers to the measurement of a specific wavelength of blue light. Which is a convoluted way of saying it measures how bright the paper is. To add a little fun and uncertainty to your search for the right paper there are three standards tests used to determine brightness, TAPPI, ISO, and D65. All three use a rating system between 0 and 100% while acknowledging that it may exceed 100%.
As a general guide the higher the number the more your text or images will pop on the page. Whale high brightness is perfect for photographs and full-color printing it can strain the eye on longer documents. Brightness is more important on matte paper as glossy and semi-glossy paper will be more reflective. Brightness can be hit and miss, and often consumers can be disappointed when they order online expecting bright white and don’t get it. You will be able to hold up to sheets with the exact same rating that look entirely different.
The Climate Pledge Friendly is an Amazon initiative that helps customers find products that meet sustainability standards. And those three words aren’t in the wrong order, it is indeed, Climate Pledge Friendly, not climate friendly pledge. Go figure. The FCS, The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit organization that promotes responsible forestry.
Printer Paper FAQ
What's the best printer paper for everyday use?
If you print a high amount of physical documents that don't need to be of an exceptionally high standard, the standard copier paper is the best way you can go. The traditional copier paper does a great job of providing decent-quality printouts at a low price.
What's the best paper for inkjet printers?
Inkjet printers operate by spraying liquid ink onto the page at an incredible velocity, which indicates that the best paper to use in an inkjet printer is a lot more absorbent than regular paper. Consider opting for thicker paper quality with inkjet printers.
What is a normal size printing paper?
There are various printing paper sizes, but the standard size range is 8.5" & 11" or the A4 size printing paper. It is one of the most broadly used papers.
Is recycled paper better for the environment?
The recycled paper has a significant impact on the plant and reduces 39% solid waste. It also produces fewer pollution emissions when producing it.
Mark has worked behind the scenes in the world of office supplies for almost his entire adult life, so he understands the ins and outs like no one else. He's volunteered his time to help others build their ultimate home or work office space.