At AboutMechanics, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How Do I Choose the Best Printing Materials?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

When it comes to choosing printing materials, there are three separate areas from which consumers can choose: the printing machine, the paper and the ink. Printers are typically inkjet or laser, which may make one printer better suited for a job than others. Paper is the broadest printing materials category, because there are colored papers, thick or thin papers, papers with different finishes and many other options. Ink is rarely an option, though some printers have different quality inks. Depending on what is being printed, there is likely to be a perfect set of printing materials for the job.

The two most common printing machines are inkjet and laser. Inkjet uses a nozzle to spray dots of ink onto a page, while laser printers expose the paper to electrostatic charges and toner is attracted to the charge. In terms of quality, laser machines are better, but laser printers and their associated materials are commonly more expensive. If a consumer needs high-quality prints with thin and defined lines, then laser printers are better. If the consumer just needs to print text, whether to read or to archive, then an inkjet printer may be better.

Laser printer cartridge.
Laser printer cartridge.

Printing paper is the broadest of the printing materials categories, but it can be broken down by thickness and special features. Thin printing paper does not hold ink well, so it is usually not suited for dense color prints, but it is cheap and good for text that needs to be archived or when quality is not an issue. Thicker paper, especially cardstock, is necessary for prints that need durability, will be handled frequently by people, or need to absorb a large amount of ink.

Laser printer.
Laser printer.

Paper’s special features include color and finish. Most printing paper is white, which makes it suitable for common printing jobs. If a printing job requires a background color, then it is cheaper to buy colored paper than to rely on the printing, because coloring a full sheet of white paper requires a lot of ink. Paper also can have a matte or glossy finish, or no finish. Matte and glossy papers are made for photos and are more expensive but have a better grain; regular paper has no finish.

Multifunction printer.
Multifunction printer.

The printer generally dictates the type of ink used, and the consumer can choose to buy the printer's brand-name ink or off-brand ink. Some printers have different quality inks, such as an ink set made for photos. If quality is an issue for printing materials, getting this high-quality set will be better, but the ink also will be more expensive.

Discussion Comments


I do a lot of design work at home. I am working on a budget, so I have to live with the printer that I have and the ink that it takes. The only printing material I have a choice in is paper.

I make my own greeting cards, and when I print them, I use cardstock. It is as thick as a greeting card you would buy from a store, but it can be bent in the middle for folding.

My designs print well on the cardstock. I usually keep things fairly simple, so there are no minute details that could get lost in the thickness of the paper.

My friends have told me that they cannot tell a difference between store-bought cards and the ones I make. I even print a little logo on the back for added professionalism.


@OeKc05 – There is something called “resume paper” that you can buy specifically for this purpose. It usually has a light watermark or pattern that adds interest without distracting from the content of the resume.

The resume paper that I used was a cream color and had a marble pattern. It was a mixture of various tans and off-whites that reminded me of a marble countertop.

It wasn't very thick, but it was more substantial than copy paper. The black ink of the text looked very good on top of it. That paper could make almost anything look professional, and since I didn't have a whole lot of job experience to add to my resume, I relied on its appearance to make me look good.


I will be graduating college soon and looking for a job, so it is time for me to start planning my resume. I am wondering what kind of paper would be best to use for printing it.

I don't want to use cheap copy paper and risk looking like I don't care. On the other hand, I think that bright pink construction paper would be a little too loud and flamboyant. I need to look professional yet noticeable.

What color and thickness of paper is the best to use when printing resumes? Is there a kind that employers prefer to see?


I quickly discovered that an inkjet printer is not ideal for printing high quality color photographs. I had decided to start printing out my photos at home, but my printer was affecting the quality.

I invested in a laser printer, and it made all the difference. Details that could not be seen in the photos printed by the inkjet printer showed up well with the laser printer, and the colors were so much more defined and bright.

Another thing I love about my new printer is that I can replace the separate color ink cartridges as needed. With the old one, I had to buy a whole new set every time one color would wear out, but I save a lot of money just buying what I need.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Laser printer cartridge.
      Laser printer cartridge.
    • Laser printer.
      Laser printer.
    • Multifunction printer.
      Multifunction printer.
    • There are many types of printing paper.
      By: Roman Samokhin
      There are many types of printing paper.