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Shopping For Inkjet Printer Paper
By The iScrapbook Team, last updated 11/21/2008

Most printer manufactures recommend that you use their brand of paper for best results. This recommendation does have some merit since their inks are designed to achieve optimal results on their paper. This doesn't mean, however, that you can't try other brands of paper and compare results. Plus, it turns out that many paper products are designed to work well with any inkjet printer. There are several other attributes to look for in the paper you choose:
A major consideration in choosing the paper you use in your inkjet printer is price. Paper from the printer manufacturer will usually be more expensive than generic or store-brand papers. There are other ways to save money as well including buying in bulk and buying online.
Most inkjet papers come in a matte, luster, or glossy finish. The finish you choose is mostly a personal preference thing but there are a few things to keep in mind. Matte finish papers are usually the least expensive and are great if you want a non-glare finish or if you'll be putting the printed pages inside a glossy sleeve in your scrapbook. Plus, if your printer has a gloss optimizer cartridge, you can still get a glossy finish on matte papers. Wedding, portrait, and fine-art photographers have traditionally used luster paper for their photos because it offers an elegant finish and has the highest color gamut available. Glossy paper is great if you want the professional look and feel of traditional photographs.
Single or Double-Sided
You can save money by printing on both sides of a piece of paper, but you'll need to buy double-sided paper if you want a special finish (matte, luster, or glossy) on both sides of the paper. You should also make sure the paper is thick enough so that the printing on one side does not show through to the other side.
The "whiteness" of a piece of paper is typically expressed on a "brightness" scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being the brightest. Your average everyday copy machine paper usually has a paper brightness in the 80's. Photo papers are normally in the mid to high 90s. A paper's brightness is normally indicated on the packaging of the paper but some manufacturers choose to use a vague term like "Ultra Bright" instead. The brightness of a paper can affect the quality of the colors printed on the paper. For example, colors on less bright papers typically appear noticeably darker or more dull, while colors on a brighter paper typically appear noticeably more vibrant and clear. Of course, if the brightness of the paper is too high, then lighter colors might start to appear washed out. The best way to choose a paper brightness before making a major investment in paper is to print on several different paper samples and see which looks best.
The weight of the paper refers to how much (in pounds) 500 sheets weigh. The higher the weight, the thicker and more substantial the paper. Normal everyday copy machine paper usually weighs 16 to 20 lbs. Inkjet paper usually weighs 20-32 lbs. When choosing a paper and comparing weights, consider how you'll be presenting the printed paper. If you'll be putting it in a sleeve you can probably get away with a lighter weight paper. If you'll be be printing on both sides, then you'll want a heavier weight paper.
Fade Resistance (Archival Quality)
Look for acid-free paper which is paper that is made without process acids. Acid-free paper has a longer shelf life and is good for archival purposes because it doesn't turn yellow over time. Many paper manufacturers, especially those that also make printers, will tell you how many years of fade resistance life you can expect out of their papers when combined with their inks. The best inks combined with the best papers can last over 150 years.
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