Printastik website banner with Printastik logo and text: What Paper Should You Use for Your Copies?

We’ve all seen it. You attend a training session, a presentation at a conference, or some other live event, and you’re handed a floppy, thin, black-and-white sheet of paper. The information is conveyed on the handout, but the quality of the paper is such that it subconsciously diminishes the impression you have of the entire experience.

It may seem like a small thing, but the fact is that how you choose to make your copies matters. Especially if you are looking for additional handouts for an important event, not just any piece of paper will do.

When you head to your local office supply store, the paper aisle is filled with stacks of reams that have various numbers and denotations on the packaging. The parity can be inundating. Keep reading to discover how to interpret different kinds of copy paper, and which kind leads to the best copies.

Paper Basics

The first thing to understand about paper is the weight. You will often see it marked on the outside of the package of a ream: “28 lb,” for example. This measurement refers to how much 500 sheets of that particular paper weighs in pounds per 500 sheets or pounds per 1000 sheets, based on the group or category of paper being graded (i.e. bond, book, text, cover, etc.). Each grade of paper is assigned a standard size to which all weights are referred. As an example, bond paper has a standard size of 17 x 22” and is measured in 500 sheets. If 500 sheets of this size weigh 20 lbs, then the ream of paper will be classified as 20 lb bond paper. Heavier and lighter stocks will be labeled as such (i.e. 16 lb bond or 24 lb bond). These measurements can be confusing because a sheet size different from the standard size is calculated as a fraction or multiple of the basis weight and is normally noted for 1,000 sheets, rather than 500. The weight thus calculated of the actual sheet size is always noted in weight per thousand (M in Roman numerals) and is therefore said to be 19 X 25″ – 100M, meaning that 1,000 sheets of 19 x 25″ will weigh 100 lbs.

Another facet of paper to understand is the sheen, or flatness. “Bright white” paper is just that – brighter and whiter. Other papers can be labeled as “matte,” or have no additional label at all. Brighter and whiter paper can result in more eye-catching printouts, and flat or matte paper might be suitable for large packets or legal documents.

Lastly, digital paper is specifically designed for printing high-quality digital images. Using digital paper for printing copies will result in a crisp, bright, detailed image.

The Perils of The Standard Copy

The “standard” copy is the one we mentioned in the beginning of this article – a thin, flat, black-and-white printout. People often choose the cheapest option when buying paper or investing in a copy service, which, unsurprisingly, leads to the most lackluster results. Since 20 lb paper weighs less, it is generally less expensive. However, this thin of a cut will more easily tear, bend, and stain. Some 20 lb paper also has a translucent quality which undermines the images and message effectiveness on any one page.

Furthermore, a standard black-and-white, 20 lb copy makes it obvious that the document is, in fact, a copy. A flimsy sheet that is clearly a reproduction of a more detailed and colorful original can send a message to the receiver that the organizer was not willing to invest in high-quality materials for them.

A Better Alternative

Thankfully, there are copy options that will alleviate these problems. At Printastik, our house stock is a 28 lb smooth digital paper with a 98 brightness, presenting a reliable and durable option for your printing needs. We also stock various papers and finishes, including cover stock weighing up to 203 lbs. The thicker cut ensures your copies will be sturdy and durable, while the brightness and digital printing capabilities allow your copies to be just as colorful and compelling as the original document. All without breaking the bank. 

Investing in the right copy paper will send a powerful message to whoever receives it. At Printastik, we are dedicated to making sure that happens.

Additional Options

Different documents and presentations require different treatments, and we will help you find exactly what you need. Our copy selection dashboard has a host of additional paper options as well to fit whatever specifications your project requires. Our availability includes:

  • House stock, 28 lb Smooth Digital 
  • 80 lb Smooth
  • 80 lb Gloss Text
  • 80 lb Matte
  • 100 lb Gloss Text
  • 100 lb Matte
  • Synthetic Paper – 10 & 12 mil
  • 20 lb Bond
  • 120 lb Satin Cover
  • 130 lb Satin Cover
  • 203 lb Gloss Cover

If you’re not sure which option is best for your particular project, we’re happy to connect with you and offer our advice from our wealth of copying experience.


Work with Printastik 

At Printastik, we pride ourselves on being able to make your digital dreams reality. As the printing industry changes, we are excited to see what those changes bring and how we can evolve with it. We make printing easy with personable service and reliable quality on every project, guaranteed. Partner with us today by calling (651) 659-9680 or email us at to discover how we can make your passion come to life.