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Printing and Paper Tips for Printables

For printing at home:

What kind of paper should I use?

Use bright white card stock or heavy weight paper for good results.

Photo paper will make your color prints more vivid. It also seems to print fine detail better, like you'd find with digital burlap or chalkboard. You may prefer matte finish for more realism with certain images like burlap, wood, chalkboard, but that's a personal choice.

My absolute favorite is Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper in Matte finish for color and quality. 

For the best results, use the papers that are made by your printer manufacturer.

Stickers are best printed on full sheets of white shipping labels (sometimes called sticker paper) that are made for your type of printer, like these for ink jet printers and laser printers. If you need it, there are also clear sticker sheets for ink jet printers! You can also just print on regular paper, and use a glue stick to make the graphic sticky. 

Printing Tips

On an ink jet printer, check your ink levels and clean the print heads if needed! If not cleaned, they can leave streaks.

In the print options, tell your printer which type of paper to expect - if printing to card stock, try to find the "paper" option that most closely matches the one you're using - you'll get the best results.

If you're printing an iron-on transfer, please see our tips just for that!

Which kind of printer, ink jet or laser printer?

Laser printers are excellent, especially if you need to print smaller type regularly.  The way toner interacts with th paper results in a crisper edge than with ink jet, and you'll notice that with smaller images and type. The toner cartridges are expensive, but tends to last much longer than inkjet. Here is an excellent HP laser printer at an excellent price

I use an ink jet printer with archival inks, the Epson Artisan 1430. The color and quality are phenomenal. It also prints up to 13x19", so I can print wall art, posters and signage.

For printing at a print/copy store:

What kind of paper?

As with printing at home bright white card stock or heavy weight paper give good results. I prefer photo paper as it makes color prints more vivid and seems to do better with fine detail, like on digital burlap or chalkboard.

If printing an editable PDF that you've edited, make sure they will open and print the file within Acrobat Reader to pick up your changes. 

Ask them to print at Actual Size (no scaling) unless you request a custom size. 

And don't forget about laminating! It can make any print writable with dry-erase markers! FedEx/Kinko's does a great job with laminating.

My two favorite US print stores are FedEx/Kinko's and Staples. If you have other local or chain printers near you, it's worth giving them a test - some are excellent, others may not provide a quality or consistent experience.

If you're printing for a big event or gift, it's worth it to leave extra time for making test prints and communicating with the printer.

For printing online:

There are many online printing options! You can order with them and they'll ship to you. Here are some of the best:

http://www.stationeryhq.com

http://www.mpix.com (try their linen paper for an extra rich look!)

http://www.48hourprint.com

http://www.digitallizardprint.com

http://www.catprint.com

http://smartpress.com

Also, physical print stores like FedEx/Kinko's and Staples will ship if you're not nearby.

Finishing your printable:

If your printable needs trimming, good-quality scissors are always an option.

For a cleaner edge, especially if you have a lot to cut, paper trimmers are great.

I've always like using a cutting board, straight edge and exacto knife - just be careful not to slice the side of your finger as you hold the ruler! (I also really like using scalpels - they seem more precise.)

For a fancy edge, there are decorative-edge scissors, like these from EK Tools or X-Acto. And fringe scissors from Martha Stewart!