Internal Memo or Important Presentation? Get the Right Paper for Your Job

May 24, 2022

All office papers may look the same at a glance, but there is a lot to learn when it comes to which paper is right for your needs. Simply put, different types of documents call for different paper. Since no one sheet fits every project, we’ve compiled a list of paper attributes to consider when looking for the right paper for the job. 

Brightness refers to the percentage of blue light a piece of paper reflects. The higher the brightness, the greater the contrast between the printed image and the paper, which can make colors appear richer and text more crisp. Most office papers range between 92 and 98 on the TAPPI brightness scale (which is the most common scale in the U.S.). Using brighter paper makes print more vibrant and appealing – giving graphics and images the appearance of “popping” off the page. For everyday printing, brightness at the lower end of the range will be fine. But for high-end proposals or flyers, choose a paper with higher brightness.

Smoothness is measured by the Sheffield method, which assigns a number indicating the amount of surface texture a sheet paper has. The higher the number, the more surface imperfections and the rougher the paper feels to the touch. The lower the number, the smoother the surface of the sheet. A smoother finish helps keep more ink on the paper’s surface and delivers better imaging. Paper with a lower Sheffield number is best for high-quality office printing. 

Opacity (also called show-through) indicates the level of reflection and absorption of light that passes through the paper. The greater the opacity on a 100-point scale, the lesser the transparency. Consequently, if a paper has low opacity, more of the print will show through from the other side. For internal memos and draft reports, lower opacity will suffice. But for printing that contains solid blocks of color, bold type and heavy coverage, use a paper with a high opacity (94% or higher).   

Weight references the basis weight of the paper, not the physical weight. The basis weight for office paper is calculated based on an industry-standard press size of 17” x 22” which, for copy paper is 20 pounds per 500 sheets. However, office papers generally come in a range of weights. The heavier the weight, typically, the thicker and stiffer the sheet. A heavier weight paper is good for external proposals and presentations.  

Reliable Performance can sometimes be an overlooked attribute, as it’s not measured on a specific scale. However, it can be one of the most important considerations. Paper jams often lead to complaints, supplier back-and-forth, and service calls. No matter what you’re printing, selecting a high-quality paper with a 99.99% Jam-Free® Performance Guarantee helps ensure performance and avoid misfeeding, curling and jamming. 

So, which office papers should you choose for your internal vs. external print needs?

  • For internal documents such as memos, forms or draft reports, we recommend Boise® X-9® Multi-Use Copy Paper. It comes with a 99.99% Jam-Free® Performance Guarantee, ensuring your documents will never come out smeared or crumpled. With a brightness level of 92, Sheffield smoothness number of 170, opacity of 91, and 20 lb weight, this paper will provide reliable printing and suitable quality for your day-to-day needs. When you want to incorporate a recycled option for internal printing, Boise® Aspen® Multi-Use Copy Paper is the way to go. It features a Jam-Free Guarantee and the same ratings for brightness, smoothness, opacity, and weight as the X-9 Multi-Use paper.
  • For important external print jobs, consider a more premium paper. Boise POLARIS® Premium Papers will impress customers with brilliant, vivid colors and professional results. Featuring brightnesses of 97/98, Sheffield smoothness number of 130, opacity of 92, and 20, 24 or 28 lb weight options, Boise POLARIS is perfect for proposals with color charts or graphs, brochures or flyers with high-impact photos, and certificates that need to stand the test of time.

Whether you are printing a draft document for your eyes only or the year’s biggest business proposal, Boise Paper has just the right option for you. Want more information? Watch our How to Pick the Perfect Paper video.

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