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What is Printer Paper?

It sits there in the tray from your printer. It’s placed right on top your desk or kept inside your drawer. It’s folded inside the envelope. It has been an ubiquitous presence everywhere but it’s an important object for writing and printing text or images that has served mankind for many years.


Types of Printer Paper

With plenty of paper types to choose from, each type has its own specific purpose and characteristics. Some common types are:

  • Inkjet Paper - an inkjet paper is ideal for printing photos or images. Different coatings of different kinds of inkjet paper are applied in order for the ink to dry properly. They are classified according to its weight, texture surface, or intended use. The inkjet paper types are uncoated, glossy, matte, or bright white.
  • Laser Paper - a heat-resistant type of paper for laser printer use. Unlike inkjet paper, laser paper have few or no coatings applied. Ideal for business use.
  • Multipurpose Paper - a good substitute for inkjet or laser printing and even for photocopying. A general purpose paper that’s commonly found anywhere.
  • Copier Paper - a thinner and cheaper paper that’s also general purpose but intended specifically for photocopying text; not recommended for printing images.
  • Newsprint - a low-cost, usually made of recycled fibers, lightweight paper for newspaper printing or other publication use. Use it only for printers that can support newsprint as this type of paper is used in a large dye-sublimation printer.
  • Cardstock - thick, weighty paper for business cards or greeting card use.


Common Sizes


Dimensions (inches) width x height


8.5 x 5.5


8.5 x 14


8.27 x 11.69


11.69 x 16.53


7.16 x 10.12


7.25 x 10.5

Junior Legal

5 x 8


11 x 17



GSM – Measurement in Thickness

Whenever you buy a ream of paper, you’ll notice a number with GSM on it. GSM stands for “Grams per Square Meter”. It’s an indicator how thick or heavy a sheet of paper is. The thicker the paper, the higher its GSM rating. If you come across with an unbranded paper with no GSM rating, keep in mind some common types of paper and its thickness range should be.


Paper Type




Printer Paper


Copier Paper


Poster Paper





Some manufacturers market their paper as multipurpose paper that can be used both for printing and copying. The GSM rating may be identical as other dedicated printer or copier paper. The more vivid and color rich your document is the heavier the paper is needed. Technically, a paper for printing is thicker than copier paper because more of the paper’s weight is needed to hold the ink from an inkjet to minimize or avoid wrinkling while the ink from toner doesn’t need much weight to hold up.


Be Careful What Paper To Use For Your Printer!

Remember to use a printer paper that was designed for its specific use. Never use an inkjet paper to a laser printer as inkjet paper coatings may have bleaching agents, pigments or polymers. These coatings melt within the heat inside the laser printer and can damage the drum or any other parts and are costly to repair. While using a laser paper to an inkjet printer is not that potentially damaging, the paper cannot hold the inkjet ink very well, leaving some smears or marks on the printout.


  • Quite an informative piece. Really learnt a lot

  • great explanation of printer paper! this is pretty useful

    Jasmine Hewitt
  • What interests me: what is the typical GSM rating of an inkjet paper?
    Personally, I usually use multi-purpose paper for my business operations. For more important documents, such as contracts with customers, I use linen paper, which is very high-quality, thick and leaves a good impression on the customer.
    For useless documents and private occasions I use environmentally friendly recycled paper.


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