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How Choosing the Just Right Paper for Your Inkjet or Laser Printer Can Save and Make You Money!

With today's low-cost, high-performance inkjet and laser printers and desktop publishing software, you can produce documents that rival commercial printing work.

Many people, though, make the mistake of using inexpensive copy paper to print their marketing materials. They don't realize that this perceived up-front savings in paper expense can actually cost them plenty in the long run. Here's why...

Loading inexpensive, low-quality copy paper into your laser or inkjet printer for anything but short-run draft printing can cause mis-feeds, bunching and paper jams. This not only holds up your printing job, it wastes ink, toner and paper, and can damage your printer.

Using low-quality copy paper will also produce low-quality output. If you want to make a great first and lasting impression-- you should carefully choose a paper grade that fits your particular project and printer specifications.

First, determine the main purpose of your marketing piece. If you said, "e;It's to get my prospects to take action,"e; give yourself a gold star! (If you said something like, "e;It's to get my name out there,"e; please re-read the last sentence!)

Second, ask yourself who will be reading your message. A marketing piece aimed at teenagers should be formatted differently than a message designed for corporate executives.

Is the image you need environmentally conscious, fun, colorful, high-tech, old-fashioned, down-to-earth, contemporary, serious business-like, conservative, or very creative? Selecting the right paper can help you convey the right image.

Third, decide how many pieces you want to print. This is a factor of how many sales you expect to make as a result of distributing your piece.

Once you know what you want to say, who you want to say it to, and how much you want to invest to do this, you can select the just right paper for your project.

Now, let's review the elements that paper has, to give you that needed attitude or image:

Weight-- A paper's weight affects its durability and its ability to move through your printer. Weight also affects a paper's eye-appeal and opacity (the degree to which light can pass through it.) Paper weight is measured in "e;pounds"e; -- as in "e;32 lb."e; or "e;32#."e; In general, the higher the "e;poundage"e; the heavier the paper.

To a point, the heavier the weight of the paper, the more "e;substance"e; it will appear to have. So, if you want to look "e;substantial"e; you should use a heavier weight paper.

Whiteness-- "e;Whiteness"e; is often a matter of opinion, rather than science. For example, often a blue-white paper looks most "e;white"e; to the untrained eye. Just how "e;white"e; your paper should be depends on your intended readers. A personalized sales letter to a corporate CEO might be blue-white, while a flyer for your beauty care products business might be a creamier white.

Brightness-- "e;Brightness"e; is determined by industry standards and usually varies from 89-96. The higher the number the brighter is the sheet. Brightness makes your words and graphics pop out against the background. The brighter the paper the more legible the document. Using high-brightness paper is especially important in color printing, or when you want maximum contrast between your text and background.

Opacity-- "e;Opacity"e; is determined by the thickness of the paper and the materials that are used to make the paper. Opacity affects a documents readability. High opacity allows virtually no "e;show-through"e; and is mandatory for two-sided printing. You can compare paper opacities by holding each sheet up to a light source or by placing it over a printed surface.

Smoothness-- A smooth finish and level surface are often important when you want to present a bold image. Also, the smoother the paper, the whiter it appears.

Rich Tactile Sense-- This is how a paper feels to your touch. Although it is not always related to smoothness, paper with a rich tactile sense can create an image of elegance, luxury, or superior quality.

Archival Quality-- This is how long a paper can be expected to last. For example, a paper that is acid-free has an extended life of more than 200 years. So, if you're printing a contract or other legal document, you should use acid-free paper.

Watermarks-- A watermark is a faint design that is embedded in a paper when it is made. Watermarked paper can convey an image of elegance, luxury, or superior quality.

Recycled-- Recycled papers are available with low and high percentages of recycled fiber content. By using recycled paper for day-to-day communications, you can demonstrate your commitment to the environment.

By the way, if you feel that you must use ordinary copy paper in your inkjet or laser printer, it's a good idea to "e;fan"e; the paper before placing it in the paper tray to remove static electricity. An easy way to steer clear of trouble is to check the weight of the paper. A 24# will run far better than a 20# sheet. 

Using the right paper ensures performance, accuracy, reliabilty, as well as a high-quality presentation-- and will give you a higher expected return on your marketing budget. offers a complete selection of papers including inkjet, laser, glossy, bond, text, linen, laid, photo, and coated paper for your business or home printer.