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Knowhow - IT and Technology Help

Knowhow is the award-winning end-to-end services brand supporting Currys PC World. Knowhow strives to better serve customers throughout the lifetime of their products and to help them get the best from their technology. Services include delivery and installation, set-up, repairs and protect.

This article series will be introducing new technologies as well as helping us enjoy and make the most of new products for years to come.

Knowhow No. 29

If we want the best results from our printer we should think about what we're feeding it. Just like choosing the right ingredients for a meal, we need to consider weight, size and quality when choosing our printer paper. Here's a guide to getting it right.

A guide to printer paper


What you'll need

The Knowhow

Before buying printer paper it's best to check the documentation that came with the printer to see what the manufacturer recommends. Using the wrong paper might cause damage which isn't covered by your warranty.

The main characteristics which can change the way documents print is sizeweight and type.

Size: The default paper size for printing on is A4; other sizes include A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B4, B5 etc... You'll usually only need to change paper size if printing photos, cards, labels or something more specialised.

Weight: Printer paper is measured in GSM (grams per square metre) meaning the higher the GSM, the thicker the paper is. Generally the most used printer paper is around 80gsm and is ideal for printing documents. If printing images or lots of colour it's recommended to use a paper of around 120gsm as colour doesn't reproduce well on thinner paper. Most new printers will come with a minimum paper weight figure.

Types: What makes printer paper different to others is the coating/texture of it, for example; laser, inkjet, photo, listing, coloured, matte, glossy etc. For everyday printing you'll only need plain white paper but businesses might want a laid finish which gives the paper an elegant textured look. Check in the printer user guide to see what types of paper your printer supports. See below for two of the most common paper finishes:

  • Glossy - Mainly used for printing photos to create a shiny, bright finish
  • Matte - Produces a dull looking finish which is less likely to be smeared - unlike glossy paper

Ink Jet Printers

An inkjet uses sprays of ink to produce the text or image and the ink needs to soak into the paper; so, the thinner the paper the more likely it will smudge, bleed or streak etc. The paper used with an inkjet printer greatly determines the quality of the print. For the best results, look for inkjet paper as this is coated with a wax which holds the image or text in place.

Laser Printers

A laser printer is designed to print high volumes of documents quickly so plain or laser paper will work well. It's essential NOT to use coated inkjet paper in a laser as some of the layers could melt under the heat of the fuser, which can ruin the printer. If you have a colour laser printer, check the figures for different kinds of printing as colour printing usually uses a different temperature to monochrome.

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