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Is Copy Paper the Same as Printer Paper?

In the modern world of technology and office essentials, the terms ‘copy paper’ and ‘printer paper’ often find themselves entwined in discussions. While they both play vital roles in the documentation process, they have distinct and specific purposes.

Understanding the difference between a copy paper and printer paper is essential for effective document management and achieving the desired results in your printing tasks. In this article, we will talk about the definitions and functions of both copy papers and printer paper, highlighting their individual roles within the printing ecosystem.

What Is Printer Paper?

Printer paper is a thick paper which is very expensive when compared to copy paper. When you want clean lines and the most optimum result, using printer paper is recommended. Although it can be used for text, the best qualities of a printer paper shine when you use it for images. When you print images on a very thin paper, they will have a more saturated appearance as it would not have been reproduced properly. This happens because the clarity of the print largely depends on how much light passes through the paper. Since the printer paper is thick, the quality of text and images printed on it is always high. Since this paper is pretty expensive, it is not recommended for everyday use.

What Is Copy Paper?

When compared to printer paper, copy paper is pretty thin and this is why it is much cheaper as well. Copy paper is ideally used when rough copies or simple text documents need to be printed. Copy papers are useful when high-quality text is not necessary. Generally, images are never printed on a copy paper as they turn out to be excessively saturated in appearance. However, if you are on a budget, copy paper is the ideal choice.

Difference Between Printer Paper and Copy Paper

The main difference between a printer paper and copy paper lies in their thickness, quality, and price. Printer paper is thicker and expensive. So it is the best option to print high-quality text and images. Copy paper is thinner and cheaper. It works well when rough drafts with poor text quality need to be printed.

It is recommended that you have both types of paper handy since they each have their own benefits when used for specific purposes. For instance, although you won’t print images everyday, you might need to keep a few printer papers handy for when you need to print out your CV or Cover Letter for an interview on a better looking paper than copy paper. However, for everyday use, copy papers work best since they are cheaper.

Different Types of Papers For Printing

Now that you know what a printer paper is, let’s look at the different types of printer paper.

1. Glossy Paper

As the name suggests, glossy paper has a shiny surface. Such a paper is coated with a polymer to get a smooth surface finish which gives a vibrant print color output in comparison to regular paper. However, the drying time involved with a glossy paper is much longer and this makes the print susceptible to smudges. Glossy paper is best used along with a laser printer.

2. Photo Paper

Photo paper, just like its name suggests, is meant specifically for printing pictures and photographs. Generally printed photos have two different surfaces with respect to texture and appearances. One side of a photo paper is glossy and shiny while the other side has a matte finish. Photo papers are thicker than other types of papers used for printing.

3. Bright White Paper

Although all papers for printing look white, a bright white paper has an exceptional white color coating with a smooth finish. It is an advanced variant of a copy paper that is generally used when aesthetic presentation is required. When you want to print text or an image with vibrant finish but no shine, a bright white paper is ideal.

4. Heavy Weight Paper

Cardstock is the most common type of heavyweight paper. The thickness of the paper is determined by the weight of the paper. When someone talks about the weight of the paper, what they really are referring to is how thick or thin the paper is and how hard it is to bend. When picking a heavy weight paper, you need to consider what your printer can handle and whether you have the kind of tray that is recommended for such a paper.

5. Regular Matte Paper

This is one of the most common types of printer paper used for basic printing. This is somewhat similar to the copy paper which was discussed in the above section. The surface is matte and not shiny which helps in quick ink absorption and drying. This is helpful to avoid smears and smudges.

6. Inkjet Paper

This paper is designed specifically for inkjet printers. Inkjet printers are desktop printers that are smaller in size when compared to regular printers. Inkjet printers make use of liquid toners unlike the laser printers that use a dry powder toner.

Printer Paper Features

Printer paper has three main features that you need to know about.

1. Brightness

This feature refers to how bright or white the printer paper is. The brightness scale is measured between 0-100. For quality prints, it is better to go with a printer paper that has a brightness of 80-100. A general rule for paper brightness is that the more bright the paper is, the better will be the quality of the print.

2. Weight

The weight of the paper is measured with the thickness and the ease with which the paper bends. The weight of the printer paper is generally measured in grams or pounds. Although the weight of the paper will vary a lot, regular papers are preferred at 75 grams and the thicker cardstock paper is preferred at 176 grams. Other factors like the paper bond, cover paper, and GSM also play a role in determining the weight of the paper.

3. Coating

Coating refers to a layer of synthetic substance or polymer that has been applied on a printer paper’s surface. A printer paper is generally coated to make the surface shiny and glossy. If you have ever come across a printer paper with a shiny surface, it is definitely due to the coating on it.

Types of Paper Finishes

Here are a few common paper finishes used for printing.

1. Bond Paper: This is generally a high-grade paper finish with a rag content varying between 25% to 100%

2. Embossed Finish: Such a finish gives a molded appearance to the paper’s surface.

3. Metallic Paper: The surface of this kind of paper is coated with a thin metal or plastic film simulating a metallic appearance.

4. Coated Paper: Such a paper’s surface is coated to give a smoother and finer appearance to the paper.

5. Cast-Coated Paper: When you see a paper with an exceptional shine and gloss on one of its surfaces, it is a cast-coated paper.

6. Cockle: This paper has a similar texture to a handmade paper.

7. Lenin Finish: This gives a surface finish which feels similar to that of a linen fabric.

8. Smooth Finish: A paper with a smooth finish usually would have been passed through multiple rollers during its manufacturing.

Importance of Choosing the Right Paper

When we talk about printing important worksheets and documents, it is very critical to pick the right paper. When you use the wrong paper, the print quality reduces, paper jams increase, and the risk of damage to the printer also increases. When you use the right paper for printing, you can avoid wasting your time and money since the need to reprint due to poor quality print reduces greatly.

Print Paper – FAQs

1. Can we use copy paper for any printer?

Ans: Yes, you can use copy paper in inkjet as well as laser printer without any issue. However, since the copy paper is very thin, the end result may not be as good as a printer paper.

2. Does it matter what paper I use for my printer?

Ans: Yes, the type of paper you use for your printer plays a major role on how the end print turns out. You need to consider the paper’s weight, color, brightness, coating, and opacity before selecting it for your printer.

3. What happens if you print without paper?

Ans: When you print without a paper, the print head can get damaged. Even the printing software may malfunction if you do this.

4. Can a printer print on any paper?

Ans: Yes, both inkjet and laser printers can print on any paper. However, when you require a specific end print, the kind of paper you choose plays a major role.


To sum it up, knowing the difference between copy paper and printer paper is really important for getting your copies just right. Even though their names might sound confusing, understanding what each one does makes things clearer. This helps you make smart choices, so your copies turn out great and look aesthetically pleasing. Remember that both copy paper and printer paper have their own special jobs, and using them together helps you get high quality prints.

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