Despite selling exclusively digital files, we do a lot of printing here at the Digital Download Shop as we test new products, and print copies for our own use. But unlike what many people think, all paper is not made equal! There actually is a real difference between the many varieties of paper available! But what is the best paper for printing planner inserts, printing wall art, and printing planner stickers? Let's take a look at the Best Paper for Printables!
Regular printer paper should really only be used for printing out receipts and documents. If you've just purchased a wonderful new Digital Download Shop printable, you'll get the best color quality and product durability by using the papers below!
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What is the Best Paper for Printables?
The best paper for printables doesn't have a one size fits all kind of answer. The type of printable you have determines what paper will be best suited to your needs.
The Best Paper for Printing Planner Inserts
When you're printing planner inserts to put in your bullet journal, Happy Planner, traveler's notebook, Filofax, binder, etc. the main thing to consider is that you don't want thin pages, for a couple of reasons. First of all, thin pages can't hold up to a lot of ink. Which means if you use markers, they'd bleed through. Secondly, thin pages tear easily, which is terrible when you think of how much time and effort you put into your planner. Lastly, thin paper tends not to produce the best color. So if you want crisp blacks or vibrant colors, typical copy paper won't do it.
But on the other hand, you don't want paper that's too thick. It still needs to be thin enough to easily fold and flip.
So having said all of that, the best paper for printable planner inserts is 28-32 lb paper, with 32 being ideal but 28 being fine. You'll also want it to have a brightness rating of 100 (the highest possible brightness).
32 lb paper can be a bit tricky to find at your local office supply store (mine only has weights up to 28), but luckily Amazon has lots of heavier weight paper to choose from. This HP printer paper is the exact weight and brightness you need for your planner printables.
The Best Paper for Printing Wall Art
Now let's talk about the best paper for printable wall art! In this case, thickness isn't as important as color quality and longevity. Because wall art won't be manipulated beyond the initial trimming and framing, your main concern should be that the print will still look good a year from now, especially if it's going to be under direct sunlight.
While technically the paper you use for your printable planner inserts can make nice enough wall art prints, what you really want is archival quality, acid-free paper that is 100% cotton fiber or rag. That's the type of paper that will print with the truest color, and last the longest time. I also suggest using matte paper, though some people like the shine of gloss/semi-gloss.
Now, all of this may sound very fancy and expensive, and if you go to your local art/photo supply store it may be. But if you get it off of Amazon it's actually quite affordable for the quality. A very popular paper on Amazon that checks off all the qualities I mentioned is this Epson paper.
A little tip: to keep your costs down, do a test print of your wall art on regular copy paper before printing on your archival paper. That way if something's wrong with the scaling, or if you realize you need to change your ink cartridge, etc., you won't have wasted a sheet of your good paper.
The Best Paper for Printing Planner Stickers
Now that we've covered printable planner inserts and printable wall art, let's talk about what is the best paper for printable planner stickers. This kind of paper is aptly called sticker paper. You can also use full sheet label paper as it's essentially the same thing, but be aware that some brands come with one or more slits in the back to help with removing the labels, which isn't ideal, especially if you're using a cutting machine.
There are two main kinds of sticker paper out there- writable and non-writable. Writable sticker paper should be used on stickers where you can write notes, appointments, times, etc. Non-writable sticker paper can be used on decorative stickers.
But you won't find sticker paper being advertised as writable/non-writable. It's actually the type of finish the paper has that determines its writability- meaning is it glossy or matte? Matte paper is writable, glossy paper is not. But, matte paper doesn't have as rich, bright colors as glossy, which is why some people like to keep glossy paper to use on all their stickers that don't need to be writable.
For writable matte sticker paper, I'd recommend this one. For non-writable glossy sticker paper, I'd recommend this one. Both have no slit on the back, so can be used with a Silhouette, Cricut, or other cutting machine. Cutting machine companies also often release their own brand of sticker paper, but make sure to count how many pages you get per pack. In some cases, getting sticker paper from other brands gives you more for your money.
What is the Best Printer for Printables?
This article wouldn't be complete without a quick mention of the best printers, too! You need a good printer to get the most out of any paper. It's unrealistic to expect a 10 year old entry level model to print at the same quality as a new medium-high level printer, even if they're using the same paper. Improvements in printer technology, color calibration, and ink occur every year, and if you don't have a good printer, you're likely not getting the most out of your paper.
You may think that if you want premium printing quality, you should get a laser printer. But I'd only recommend looking at inkjets, as they can handle all the different types of paper we mentioned. Laser printers can't use heat-sensitive papers. On top of that, inkjets are the best at color printing.
So what's the best printer for a non-graphic designer who still wants great prints? I would have to recommend Canon printers. Not just because my personal printer is a Canon, but because when I checked the most recent photo printer rankings, Canons were the only ones at the top of the lists that had both good reviews and affordable prices (you'd be surprised, but several top-ranking expensive printers actually didn't have great reviews).
In particular, if you want great quality prints for a good price, this Canon printer would be a great choice. The color quality is wonderful, it can do borderless printing, can be used wirelessly, can be used for AirPrint printing from Apple devices, and it can print up to 13 x 19" prints! That's everything you need to print beautiful planner inserts, wall art, and planner stickers from home!
Now you know everything you need to make the most of your Digital Download Shop printables! Have fun printing!
Do you already have a favorite brand of paper or printer? Tell us about it in the comments!