Features to Look for When Buying Printer Paper

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Features to Look for When Buying Printer Paper

The term printer paper is used in a rather general way to refer to the many different types of paper which are used in computer printers. As the use of computers and printing is pretty much commonplace in all homes and offices these days, buying printer paper is similarly a common task. However, effectively buying printer paper is about more than picking up a large pack of white paper from HP or Xerox.

Rather, each type of printer and each printing job requires a specific type of paper that can be categorised according to a number of features such as finish, brightness, weight, and size. Knowing about each of these features and how they apply to a particular type of printer paper and printing job is essential for a buyer trying to find the paper he or she needs. In addition, the buyer can also benefit from learning about ways to save money in the purchase of printer paper by properly searching and using the eBay marketplace.

Features of Printer Paper

There are four basic features to look for when buying printer paper. These features are the paper's finish, brightness or colour, weight or thickness, and size. Each of these basic features has specific characteristics that are worth noting.


A paper's finish impacts the way that a product looks once it has been printed. Different types of finishes create various effects. The most common finish types are matte, glossy, and satin. Matte finishes are those generally used for words alone, glossy is popular when printing photos, and satin finishes serve to impart a more professional look on brochures and fliers.

Brightness or Colour

The brightness of printer paper refers to the amount of light that the surface of that paper reflects. This contrast is created regardless of the colour of the paper itself, but rather refers to the variation of that colour. For example, the difference between bright white and cream-coloured paper is a question of brightness. The brighter the paper is, the higher the contrast between the printing surface and the words or images that appear upon it. Brighter paper also allows for clearer, higher contrast text and more vivid, clearer images. Generally, brighter papers are used for items such as brochures, fliers, and proposal covers.

Weight or Thickness

The weight of printer paper is sometimes also called its thickness, because the measurement is not taken in grams. Rather, weight is a general term that refers to the relative 'heaviness' or sturdiness of the paper as well as its resistance to creases and bending. Generally, heavier printer paper is used for items which require more handling or the ability to stand on their own such as business cards, artwork, signs, and greeting cards.


The final feature that a buyer must consider when it comes to printer paper is the size of that paper. Printer paper in much of the world, including the UK, is sized according to what is known as the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) paper size system. The ISO was developed in the middle of the 20th century as a means of helping people across the world correlate sizes of business-related documents regardless of the measurement system used in a country.

In the ISO, all paper products contain a height to width ratio of 1 to the square root of 2. This is the same ratio as the side compared to the diameter of a square. This allows users to put two pieces of the same sized paper next to one another and maintain the same side-to-side ratio as well as line up the short side of one paper with the long side of the paper one size up.

The ISO system is based upon metric measurements, but since these numbers are not rounded, each ISO paper size is expressed in a standard number preceded by the letter A, B, or C. In the UK, most printer paper follows the 'A' Series, the sizes of which are listed in the table below:

ISO Series A Size

Actual Size in Millimetres


1682 x 2378


1189 x 1682


841 x 1149


594 x 841


420 x 594


297 x 420


210 x 297


148 x 210


105 x 148


74 x 105


52 x 74


37 x 52


26 x 37

The ISO system has been the standard in place internationally since 1975, however, it was adopted by the UK several years earlier, in 1959. When looking for printer paper, the buyer must know the size(s) needed for each project as well as those taken by the printer; the table above should help in that manner.

General Types of Printer Paper

Although there are literally dozens of combinations of options when it comes to features to look for with printer paper, deciding upon which are appropriate can only be done once a buyer understands the basic types of paper offered, since not all types of paper offer each of the features outlined above. This all boils down to two simple questions:

  1. What type of printer is being used?
  2. What needs to be printed?

Once these two questions are answered, the buyer can simply compare the answers to the general types of printer paper offered, and choose features accordingly. Each of these five basic types of printer paper fulfils a specific set of needs that may or may not be appropriate for each circumstance.

Copy Stock Paper

The most common type of printer paper used, copy stock paper, may also be labelled simply as copy paper. Generally, this paper is of a medium thickness and bright white in colour. It has no finish and is ideal for everyday use. It is also quite inexpensive.

Hard Stock Paper

Hard stock paper is the heaviest of the general types of printer paper available on the market. The thickness of this paper is similar to that of cardboard. This is a great type of paper to use for larger, free-standing projects, such as sales signs and certain advertisements. However, the ink from inkjet printers tends to run on hard stock paper, making this type of paper exclusive to use with laser printers.

Glossy Paper

Glossy paper is a thicker version of typical copy paper, generally twice as thick. This is because it is actually two pieces of paper moulded together: a glossy top surface attached to a matte back. The materials used to create the glossy surface vary from brand to brand. However, all glossy paper must have a specific degree of porousness which allows it to accept the ink from the printer.

 The function of the matte layer at the back side of the paper is to prevent one piece of glossy paper from sticking to another. There are many projects which use glossy paper, ranging from at-home photo printing to high-quality business fliers and posters.

Matte Paper

Matte paper is typically of the same thickness as glossy paper. However, rather than the glossy front side, matte printer paper is two layers of matte-finished paper. This thicker weight makes matte paper look more professional and polished than typical copy paper. As such, it is generally used for business reports, resumes, and other important documents.

Linen Paper

The final type of printer paper commonly found is linen paper. This highly specialised type of paper is woven from paper pulp rather than simply pressed like the other types. The resulting look is more more stylised than typical paper. As such, linen paper is often used for invitations, baby announcements, and other special occasion materials.

How to Buy Printer Paper on eBay

Once the buyer is familiar with the basic features common among printer paper, such as the finish, brightness, weight, and size, as well as the basic types of paper, including copy, hard stock, glossy, matte, and linen, the buying process can begin. There are many places to find printer paper which range from stationary stores to office supply depots. There are also a number of online websites where one can purchase printer paper. Among these, eBay is a great place to find all types of printer paper and save money in the process.

Searching eBay for Printer Paper

A buyer can search eBay for printer paper by using the main search bar at the top of any page on the site. In general, using more specific terms yields better results than general searches for printer paper. Instead, consider searching for the specific types or features of printer paper you need. For example, "A4 matte printer paper". Once results appear, using the limiters provided by eBay can help a buyer further eliminate options based on price, brand, or colour.


Learning about the features to look for when buying printer paper is a great way to save time and make sure that any item purchased accomplishes the job it is meant to. These features include the paper's finish, brightness, weight, and size. In addition, knowing these features also helps a buyer to decide upon the right type of printer paper by assessing what that type of paper is offered, and contrasting it to what they need. The five most common types of printer paper are copy stock, hard stock, glossy, matte, and linen papers.

Finally, after learning about these features and the basic types of printer paper available, there are many places to buy it. However, eBay offers the user a convenient and large marketplace with a lot of different types of printer paper from which to choose. Using proper search terms can make the eBay shopping experience even simpler, saving the buyer time, money, and frustration in the long run and getting him or her the product that is needed and fast.

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