The ultimate guide to paper for printing

Glossy or matte? Lustre or fine art? Explore every paper type you'll need for photographs and creative projects.
A hand taking a print of an image of a sweet potato tart from the tray of a PIXMA printer, alongside a pack of printer paper and a homemade recipe book.

Choosing the right printer paper is one of the most important decisions in the creative process of bringing your idea, photo or design to life. The medium you select can open up the potential for a world of different effects and give your work that perfect final touch.

For photography projects which require deep black tones and punchy colours, it's essential to select paper that will accentuate those features and bring subjects to life in the photograph. Should you choose glossy or matte paper? Textured fine art print papers or semi-gloss? For fun crafting creations, do you pick innovative options such as magnetic photo paper or high-resolution stock?

You might want to consider the paper's weight, whether it is coated or uncoated and its material – some are made from synthetic or cloth fibres. Don't worry if this all seems overwhelming. This guide will help you make the best choices for your needs.

Best paper for printing photographs at home

A hand puts up a printed photo on a pinboard which has other prints pinned up.

There is a large range of glossy papers to choose from – including Canon Plus Glossy II, Canon Pro Luster and Canon Plus Semi-gloss – all of which are compatible with a wide range of Canon printers.1 Canon's creative apps also give you the option to print on magnetic or square photo paper.

Preserving memories is often at the heart of printing photographs at home. You can create smaller-sized prints that are perfect for sticking into homemade albums, adding to photo frames or pinning up on cork boards. For this type of printing, a coated type of paper can be a better option, because it's generally more durable.

Coated paper has an agent added to the surface, so is smoother, and less ink is absorbed, creating crisper prints. It is also more resistant to dirt, moisture and wear and tear because of this coating. Uncoated paper, by contrast, has texture, is more porous and can absorb ink more easily. Images printed on uncoated paper can be softer, with a more tactile feel.

Canon's range of SELPHY compact photo printers uses paper with a special protective coating that ensures every print is resistant to water, fingerprints and scratches and can last up to 100 years when stored in an album. From postcard-sized paper to square prints, credit-card-size photos and mini stickers, there's an option to suit an array of creative ways to display your photos.

Canon Everyday Use Glossy is a photo-lab-quality paper that is a top choice for economical everyday colourful photos, and compatible with PIXMA printers. Glossy Canon papers lock the ink deeper below the top surface than other papers, which prevents any excess ink from being left on the paper's surface, giving you instant-dry prints, and also means that the glossy finish remains lustrous over time.

A print emerges from a Canon PIXMA printer sitting on a table, surrounded by several other prints and a Canon camera.

If you're looking to print a large batch of holiday or family photos, it's important to consider size and how you are going to display them. For classic 4x6 photos using glossy or semi-glossy paper, the Canon PIXMA G640 can typically print up to 3,800 photos2 from just one set of ink bottles. It works with a range of paper sizes, printing photos up to borderless A4 – ideal for displaying your most precious moments in larger scale. The six individual dye-based inks produce reliable high-quality results on uncoated papers, too.

Alternatively, Canon Plus Semi-gloss paper features a satin finish and photographic paper texture with reduced glossiness for a softer look. This 260gsm paper will create excellent, instant-dry photographic prints. Team it with Canon ChromaLife 100 inks and a printer that can create high-quality photos such as the Canon PIXMA TS704a, and you're all set.

For those fond family memories or beautiful travel landscapes that would make an impact displayed more prominently in your home, many Canon photo papers are available in A4 size and, used with a printer like the PIXMA G640, can produce rich borderless A4 photos for display.

Canon Plus Glossy II photo paper has a high-gloss finish and a heavier weight of 265gsm and will help recreate saturated colours and blacks. It's the perfect match for ChromaLife 100 inks as well as the Canon LUCIA PRO inks used in Canon imagePROGRAF pro printers.

If you prefer a matte photo print, Canon Matte Photo Paper for inkjet printers can help reduce glare when in a frame with glass because it will reflect less light. Matte paper is more suited to warmer tones and for prints without the reflective sheen.

Best paper for fine art photography prints

A pair of hands holds a print of an apple dipped in white paint while a Canon PIXMA printer and two other similar prints sit on the table.

Larger prints up to A3+ or in panoramic format will really make an impact, whether on glossy or fine art media. A wireless printer such as the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 using Canon's eight-colour dye-based ink system can create outstanding colour reproduction.

If you're printing a fine art photography project, Canon Premium Fine Art Rough Paper is a professional high-quality A4 cotton paper with a rough texture that will help create dense blacks and precise tonality in dark areas of an image. Photography enthusiasts and art lovers will favour this paper for their creations, and pleasing results are achievable for both monochrome and colour prints.

The 260gsm Canon Pro Luster is a professional photo paper with a soft satin sheen. This smooth inkjet photo paper is available up to A2 size. It resembles traditional resin-coated papers used in darkrooms, making it ideal for photographers seeking a photo lab finish to showcase their work. Think radiant colours, pin-sharp details and exceptional black and white reproduction. When used with Canon ChromaLife 100 inks, which work in the PIXMA range, or the Canon LUCIA PRO inks used in the imagePROGRAF range, such as the imagePROGRAF PRO-300, this paper protects photos from degradation caused by atmospheric gases and light.3

A woman wearing a lilac jumper perches on the edge of a desk holding an A2 print emerging from a Canon imagePROGRAF printer.

Gloss, matte and fine art papers can all produce a different texture and sheen to your image, and pairing them with an advanced ink system, such as the 12 colours of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, offers a wider colour gamut across the board. The printer is also able to print onto canvas, creating further options for reproduction and display.

Another option for those wanting a professional finish is the glossy 300gsm heavyweight Canon Pro Platinum paper. This has a six-layer construction, is fade-resistant and gives outstanding colour reproduction, particularly with Canon LUCIA PRO and ChromaLife 100 inks.

You can also choose a paper based on the colour tones in an image. For special photographs and artworks with warm colours and grey tones, the 210gsm Pro Premium Matte gives a smooth non-glare texture without a reflective sheen. Developed for professionals looking for premium quality, this thicker paper will make gallery-quality prints when used with a printer such as the compact professional A3 inkjet Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 or the A2 imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 with advanced 12-ink system and wide colour gamut.

Other paper types offering exceptional professional fine art-quality printing are Canson® Infinity papers, such as the Canson® Infinity Platine Fibre Rag, which features a 100% cotton base and a pure white tone. Cotton papers have rich texture, stronger fibres, a luxury feel and a long lifespan, giving them an archival quality. Alternatively, Hahnemühle's photo range of papers also offers premium results for photographic prints, posters and photo books.

Best paper for crafting projects

A finished three-dimensional flower card on a table next to two boxes of Canon printer paper. A woman can be seen crafting in the background.

For greeting cards, postcards or invitations, the arts-and-crafts focused Double-sided Matte Paper is ideal for your personalised scrapbook creations, origami or calendars.

A table covered with Canon Creative Park papercraft decorations, flowers in vases and plates of food including eggs and hot cross buns.

Canon Creative Park helps you make the best paper choice by suggesting which Canon papers to use for which templates. Once you've decided on a template and selected your media, the app can be used with multiple PIXMA models, including the Canon PIXMA TS7440a or PIXMA TS5340a printers, to print them out onto matte paper and display them around the house.

Whether it's greeting cards, homemade gifts or a storybook, when you're conjuring up craft projects with your printer there are a few elements to consider. Where would you like to display your creation? Do you need to print on both sides? And do you need a high-resolution paper if photos feature in your project?

There are lots of exciting ways to accessorise your home or make interactive photo displays if you print your art onto Canon Magnetic Photo Paper with your home inkjet printer. You can use it to create an interactive magnetic photo display or puzzles, or just stick them straight onto your fridge to display happy memories – no photo frame required.

If making printables and papercrafting with Canon Creative Park is your hobby, Matte Photo Paper will create prints with bright, vibrant tones and clear images without the glossy effect. It's great for designs that include photos, graphics and text.

For those who enjoy adding a personal touch to special occasions by creating their own greetings cards or party invitations, the 7x10in Double-sided Matte Paper comes with a pre-made crease and envelopes to make the process quick and easy and help ensure that each one is folded just right.

For scrapbooking or creating personalised storybooks, printing in a range of shapes and sizes can be a great way to add fun, personalised touches. The mini stickers and square-shaped sticker papers used with Canon SELPHY printers are a quick and easy way to produce prints that you can immediately stick down and enjoy – and using the SELPHY Photo Layout App you can add your own patterns, finishes and text, too.

Best paper for the small business or home office

A Canon TS7440a printer prints a sheet of paper with bright colours on it. A laptop sits beside the printer on a desktop.

Canon High Resolution Paper is ideal for professional presentations that demand sharp, vivid images or graphics, and its micro-porous coating quickly absorbs ink deep below the surface to prevent any excess being left on top – so you can print last-minute before a meeting knowing any handouts are safe from smudges. Paired with the Canon PIXMA TS7440a, which is an all-in-one printer, scanner and copier, it's the perfect go-to office paper for professional-quality output.

For bright, bold colour reproduction, opt for Canon High Resolution Paper, a coated paper with high brightness that is suited to vibrant photos and graphic images, alongside high-quality documents and spreadsheets containing intense, clear colours. Ideal for the home office or small business, this paper is perfect for creating professional presentations with a sleek finish.

A high resolution paper like this is also a good choice for those looking to create posters or other promotional material for their work. With a wide range of templates, images and fonts, Canon PosterArtist gives you all the tools you need to make a poster online for free. Pair this paper with the 3-in-1 multifunctional Canon PIXMA TS5340a – a creative tool ideal for making magnets and photo prints from your smartphone. Or try the stylish and affordable Canon PIXMA TS7440a, which enables you to print on photo paper and magnetic paper to create a range of personalised business projects.

Canon's paper and printer ranges offer something suitable for all your printing needs. Whether you're promoting your business, producing a fine art project, displaying family portraits, or using print to get organised at home, you'll be assured of high quality and standards throughout.

Written by Lorna Dockerill

  1. Check product page for a list of compatible printers.
  2. Page yield is the estimated value of 4 x 6in photos based on Canon individual test method using the ISO/IEC 29103 chart and continuous printing simulation with the replacement after initial setup.
  3. When used with genuine Canon inks and in specified storage conditions.

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