Printing photos

Inkjet paper

Written by Gail Bjork

The characteristics of the paper you use, such as brightness and finish, have direct relation to how well photos look when printed.

Inkjet paperThe type and texture of the paper you use has direct relation to how well prints look. If you treasure photos, use photo paper and ink that help ensure prints last long and are light and water resistant. Some premium papers resist fading for 25, 50 or more years and have the look and feel of traditional photographs.

Inkjet paper characteristics

Paper weight

Weight refers to the thickness of paper. Twenty and 24 lb. bond is the most common weight used by consumers. Paper used to print photos is usually thicker, with the average about 62 lbs.

Paper brightness

Inkjet papers have levels of brightness, known as whiteness. Brightness is rated on a scale of 1 to over 100. The higher the number, the whiter the paper.

Brightness has a direct bearing on how photos appear when printed. Brighter and whiter means better, more vivid color prints.

Check the brightness rating of paper

Just because a manufacturer stamps “bright” or similar term on the packaging, don’t assume you’re getting the best paper for printing photos. Before buying paper on which photos or high quality graphics will be printed, check its number rating. For top quality printing, get paper with a brightness rating of 95 and above.

Finish of inkjet photo paper

High quality inkjet paper is coated and results in sharper images that have brighter color and more detail. Gradients are smoother, very important for printing quality photos and other half-tone images.

Inkjet photo paper comes in three finishes. Which finish produces the most satisfying results is a matter of personal taste.

  • Glossy – high shine with the look and feel of traditional glossy photo lab paper.
  • Semi-gloss – satin luster and a slight bumpy surface. Less shine than glossy.
  • Matte – dull surface with no glare or sheen. Often used when prints are diplayed under glass.

Photo paper comes packaged and precut in the most popular sizes, and can be purchased online and in office supply stores.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.