Paper trail

The type of paper you use plays a huge part in how your final printouts look. Find out which particular pulp you should adopt as Windows explains all...

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  April 23, 2007

|~||~||~|Although the majority of printer paper sold on the market today looks like, well ordinary paper, it is actually far more advanced than that. Photo-quality inkjet paper for example is comprised of very thin layers of coatings, chemicals and plastics. Working together these give the paper its bright and glossy properties that make it great for photos. So contrary to what you might think, different types of paper are actually engineered in a unique way that makes them great for a particular task, even if they appear more or less the same on the outside. For instance, if you use standard stock photocopy paper to print your digital photos using an inkjet printer, you can expect to see lost detail and dull colours. Practical pulp When it comes to choosing the right type of paper for your print jobs, there are two main factors to think about; the type of printer you’re using and the type of prints you plan to create. Depending on the printer you have, you should shop within only that category of paper. If you’ve got an inkjet for example buy only inkjet certified paper. This is designed specifically for inkjet use and offers great colour and text results and will provide high brightness and a smooth finish. This paper will also reduce colour mottle (non-uniform colours) and prevent feathering (ink bleeding or running). If you own a laser printer, the same advice applies - buy only laser paper. This is designed to withstand high heat and toner demands, offers high brightness, is heavier (90 grams per square metre or higher) and features anti-jamming and anti-curling qualities. Weighty stuff Paper brightness is a measure of its whiteness and this affects the appearance of prints, especially their colour vibrancy. This is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 (100 being the highest and brightest). Paper’s weight on the other hand determines the quality of the paper and is measured in grams per square meter (gsm). A general rule of thumb is that the heavier the paper, the better the quality. Heavier paper is also more expensive however, so you should decide on exactly how much you wish to spend for your prints to look good. Paper weights range from 80gsm to 245gsm. For standard text printing, paper with a brightness of 80 and a weight of 80gsm is perfectly fine and won’t cost you or your business too much cash. (This paper is generally the cheapest on the market.) If you have an inkjet printer and want to produce top quality photo prints however, then you’ll have to spend a little more and opt for at least 120gsm paper with a brightness of 90. In the case of laser printers - though these aren’t generally considered the best choice for outputting top quality photos - you’ll finish with some decent prints if you opt for paper with a brightness above 90 and a weight of 100gsm. You should also try and avoid multipurpose paper that is designed for both inkjet and laser printers if you really want quality text, graphics or photo prints, because these sheets are designed for overall compatibility rather than specialty printing applications. ||**||

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