Decisions, Decisions: How to Select the Best Paper for Your Office

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If one of the many tasks on your to-do list involves buying paper and office supplies for the office, how do you make the right decision for your office’s needs, and for the bottom line? Getting a good price on paper is certainly a great place to start (and your boss would agree), but there are other qualities like thickness, brightness and run-ability that make certain papers stand out.

Link to IAAP Blog- “Don’t forget to factor in quality when making your selection,” says Sarah Yedlick, office expert for Boise Paper. “Supplying your office with quality paper could make the difference between keeping the office running like clockwork, and being constantly interrupted by colleagues about unwanted paper jams, reprints, ink smears and downright low-quality printing results. Who has time to deal with that?”

Save time and money—and make yourself look good in the process—by choosing quality copy paper for your office. Here are six things to think about before you place your next office supply order.

Jam-Free Guarantee

When the printer jams, it’s easy to blame the printer—but often, it’s the paper itself that’s the source of trouble. Low-quality paper has a tendency to curl or contain dust particles that interfere with the printer’s operation. Is there a more frustrating way to start the day than with a jammed job or calls from disgruntled coworkers? Paper jams cost your company time and money by reducing productivity (including your own) and contributing to equipment overuse and prolonged wear-and-tear. Choosing paper with a tested, “99.99% Jam-Free®guarantee” like Boise Paper’s X-9®and ASPEN®papers can have a significant impact on your company’s business—as well as your own time. With proportionately fewer calls of complaint, supplier back-and-forth and service calls, you’ll be able to focus on your own to-do list, without having to constantly troubleshoot the printer.


How important is it that company documents, presentations, etc., all look the same when printed? How much waste occurs due to reprints and “bad batches” of paper? Slight variations may seem trivial, but they become pronounced when printing multi-page presentations, documents or manuals. Variation can occur with discount paper is because it often manufactured on a variety of machines in different locations. No two reams of the same brand are exactly the same. The difference is more pronounced with foreign discount brands that utilize a mixture of materials and equipment with different standards.

One way to limit the risk of variation is to purchase paper from a single manufacturer that controls 100 percent of its operations—ideally, within the United States, which has higher standards for paper manufacturing than other countries. The result is a consistent product that looks, feels and performs to the same standard for every print job.


Quality paper made in the U.S.A. has another benefit to consider—that the manufacturer is accessible. Why is this important to you? On the rare occasion that issues with quality paper do arise, American manufacturers like Boise Paper are able to provide the support you’ll need to trace the source of the problem and resolve it quickly. The best that foreign or discount papers can offer is perhaps a replacement – with no guarantee that the issue is resolved and that the replacement will perform any better.

Along with these top three qualities, other important features to consider include brightness, thickness and shade.


The brighter the paper, the greater the contrast between the printed image and the paper. The reason this is important is that papers with a higher brightness make colors more vibrant and appealing—giving graphics and images the appearance of “popping” off the page. Most office papers are between 92 and 98 on the brightness scale, and depending on the output of your workplace, it may be beneficial to select a higher or lower brightness for your team. For instance, offices that print colorful presentations or documents with color graphs or photos—particularly for outside clients—are better served by paper that rate high on the brightness scale. On the other hand, if the vast majority of your printing is for internal, everyday use, brightness may not be the most important aspect, as long as your choice falls within the 92 to 98 brightness range.


Thickness (also known as weight) is an important characteristic to consider when choosing paper. The level of thickness determines the sturdiness of the sheet. The majority of everyday printer paper has a 20 lb. weight, and heavier weights, such as 24 lb. and 28 lb., provide more durability, stiffness and opacity for printed material. Heavier weight does not necessarily translate into heavier price, and you may find that it’s actually better for your office’s needs. For instance, if you and your coworkers are encouraged to print double-sided, a higher thickness will help avoid ink bleeding through to the other side and may actually reduce the overall quantity of paper your office uses. Heavier weights should be used to produce external documents like presentations, proposals and marketing materials.


Interestingly, two papers with the same brightness can vary wildly in appearance due to another important feature—shade. All white office papers fall into one of three categories based on their primary tint. Paper with more blue looks brighter and whiter to the human eye, while paper with more yellow leaves a softer, creamier impression. The balanced white, with neither more blue nor yellow, presents a more neutral look. These differences don’t affect the brightness numbers, but shade can affect the appearance of the final product. Depending on your office’s expectations and preferences, a bluer shade instead of a brighter sheet might be a better fit, and vice versa. Not sure what to go with? Request samples, which any reputable manufacturer would be happy to provide, and compare the papers side by side.

For more information about paper attributes to be aware of when looking for quality you can trust, head over to

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