We often get inquiries from customers about what type of paper to purchase for printing a cookbook on a home printer. Sounds like a straightforward question, but it can be a bit complicated because there are many types of paper out there to confuse you.
First, you want to choose a paper (aka “stock”) that fits the kind of printer you have. Some papers will say on the label that they are suitable for either inkjet or laser printers, or both. These papers have a better surface texture (aka “finish”) than plain copy paper, and they will produce nicer cookbook photos in either color or black-and-white.
I generally stay away from laid or linen paper finishes for my cookbooks because they have a texture and may not print as evenly as a wove/smooth surface. (They are great for letterhead and business stationery, though.) Sometimes I get a coated paper stock because cookbook pages can be prone to spills. (I like the matte finish because there is less glare when reading a recipe.)
Second, think about the impression you want your cookbook to make. A cookbook made with heavier paper for the cover will last longer than a cookbook with its cover and inside pages made of identical paper. (However, a “self-cover” booklet may also lend itself to several quickie cookbook themes: bridesmaid’s memento, hostess gift, children’s party favor.) The paper’s thickness (aka “weight”) is measured in pounds (#). The higher the number, the thicker and heavier the paper.
For example, “offset/book/text” paper is commonly 50#, 60#, 70#, 80#, 100#. It is often used for publication interior pages, brochures, and letterhead. It can be coated or uncoated. On the other hand, bond paper comes in 20# (standard for plain paper copiers),
24# (preferred for stationery), and 28# (usually used for outer envelopes).
If you do want a heavier cover, try “cover” stock in 65#, 80#, 100#, 120#, or 12 pt. These thicker papers can have coated or uncoated finishes.
You’ll also want to think about the paper”s absorbency (aka “opacity”), which dictates if printing will show through on the reverse side of the sheet. Complete opacity is 100%. If you are printing cookbook pages on both sides, opacity is a concern for you.
Then there is a paper’s readability to consider (aka “brightness”), which is the light reflective qualities of a paper. The brightest paper is rated 100, but most papers reflect 60-90% of light.
So there you have – a tiny lesson in selecting the right paper for your cookbook. In short, some of our customers use 24# bond for the cookbook’s inside pages and a 70# offset for the cover (they say the harder surface makes photos look better). It is really up to you.
Note: Most of the big office warehouses carry many of the papers mentioned above, and they will be happy to help you choose a paper when you’re ready to print your cookbook from your own printer.