How Do I Pick the Right Resume Paper? [All You Need to Know!]

22 September 2022
8 min read
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If you’ve only ever applied for jobs online, resume paper has probably never crossed your mind as a term before. 

Resume paper, however, is very much a thing, especially if you go to a job fair or a job interview and are required to bring a printed copy of your resume. 

Essentially, the right resume paper can make you look professional and attentive to detail, both of which can award you some extra points with recruiters by helping you stand out. 

That said, chances are you’re not so familiar with resume paper - let alone what the right one is in terms of color, weight, texture, and size, or what recruiters commonly prefer. 

Well, that’s totally normal. In this article, we’ll answer all your questions about resume paper. Read on to learn about:

  • What Makes a Good Resume Paper?
  • Resume Paper Color
  • Resume Paper Weight
  • Resume Paper Texture
  • Resume Paper Size

And much more!  

What Is Resume Paper?

Resume paper refers to paper specifically designed for resumes and cover letters

Compared to regular paper, resume paper usually comes in various colors and is thicker, heavier, and of higher quality. 

Although resume paper is usually not necessary (because the majority of job openings accept virtual applications), there are some cases when you should definitely consider it. These include: 

Since many job-seekers don’t pay a lot of attention to resume paper, they can be a bit hard to come by, so we recommend ordering them online:

novoresume vs regular resume

The type of resume paper doesn’t matter if your resume is not convincing. Use Novorésumé to create a job-winning resume within minutes!

What Makes a Good Resume Paper? 

Before you go on to buy a resume paper, you need to have a clear idea about what will work best for you. 

To make an informed decision, there are several things to take into consideration, including: 

  • Color
  • Weight
  • Texture
  • Size
  • Cotton Content

Below we discuss each resume paper aspect separately, as well as offer you some insight on what the best choice might be for you based on your resume, profession, etc. 

Resume Paper Color 

The first thing to consider is the color of your resume paper. To choose the right one, you need to consider the job position, the industry, and your resume’s specific design elements. 

The most common resume paper colors are: 

  • Ivory. Ivory resume paper is classy and timeless, with earthy tones that are perfect for more conservative industries such as law and business and senior professionals like managers, CEO-s, etc. Regarding your resume’s color palette, ivory looks great when matched with dark, contrasting colors and white spaces.
  • White. White resume paper is easy to read and can make the colors of your resume pop out distinctively. While white is fitting for almost every job and industry, it’s particularly great for designers, artists, or anyone with a visual resume that contains graphs and resume icons. White color resume also looks great for resume designs that use light shades like gray or blue. 

While both resume paper colors are highly recommended, go for ivory color if you want to look sophisticated and stand out from the crowd and for white color for a safer, yet professional look. 

Resume Paper Weight

After you’ve decided on the color of your resume paper, it’s time to choose the right paper thickness or weight. Typically, resume paper comes in three different weights, namely: 

  • 20 lbs (75 gsm). This is the standard weight for office printing paper. Although there’s nothing wrong with 20 lbs weight, it’s more see-through than the other two options and easier to crumble. Although this is by far the most economical choice, it’s also the least professional one, as it doesn’t compliment high-quality color or texture.
  • 24 lbs (90 gsm). This weight is budget-friendly yet still a professional option. Although it’s more transparent and frail than the 32 lbs option, it’s much more professional than standard office printing paper and a perfectly acceptable option if you want to save some money.
  • 32 lbs (120 gsm). 32 lbs resume paper is the most professional, qualitative, and expensive choice when it comes to paper weight. It’s thick, brightly colored, and the least transparent out of the three options, so if you have the budget don’t hesitate to go for it!

Most standard printers can’t usually handle 32 lbs of paper, so consider going to a printing shop or office supplies store to get the best printing results. 

Resume Paper Texture

You’ve probably realized by now that resume paper quality isn’t something to take lightly. And if you haven’t, you will after reading about how important texture is in making your printed resume look professional. 

The texture of your resume paper will define how your resume feels to the touch, which can in turn make it more or less memorable. 

Below, we have listed the pros and cons of the most common resume paper materials out there:

#1. Plain Resume Paper: Pros & Cons

Plain resume paper is a common and safe choice that’s basically used in every office and for most printing purposes. It’s a material that everyone is familiar with, it’s economical, and it’s overall an acceptable choice, especially if you’re on a budget. 

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of a plain resume paper:

  • Standard and “safe”
  • Works with the majority of resume designs
  • Small chance of ink spills
  • Cheap price
  • Not so memorable
  • Lowest quality material

#2. Parchment Resume Paper: Pros & Cons

Parchment paper is all about class, elegance, and history. 

It’s no wonder that all the important documents were historically printed on parchment paper. Although there’s no denying that the appeal of parchment paper is timeless, this can be a two-edged sword with recruiters. While some may love it, others may find it pretentious and a bit outdated. 

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of parchment resume paper:

  • Official appearance
  • Classy and elegant
  • Not a common material choice
  • Requires high-quality printer
  • A pretentious choice for some recruiters

#3. Granite Resume Paper: Pros & Cons

Granite paper represents the perfect balance between a speckled and a refined texture that feels like sandpaper but still isn’t too rough to the touch. 

This material effectively highlights darker colors, it’s easy to grip, and can set you apart from the competition with its elegance and originality. Not to mention, granite paper is mainly made from recyclable materials, making it an eco-friendly option. 

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of the granite resume paper:

  • Suitable for most printers
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Original yet classy 
  • Not suitable for light-colored resumes

#4. Laid Resume Paper: Pros & Cons

Laid paper comes with embossed lines on its surface that look like rolling waves. Today, we see paper as a flat surface, whereas laid paper aims to imitate how the paper looked when it was first invented. 

This alone makes it a memorable choice for your resume paper’s material, especially in an industry or job position where originality is appreciated.  

That said, laid is also the material that’s more likely to bring out printing errors and mess up your resume’s text and font quality - especially if your resume uses a dark-colored palette or if you don’t have a good printer handy. 

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of a laid resume paper: 

  • Original and classy
  • Nice to the touch
  • Memorable
  • Very costly
  • Likely to cause printing errors

#5. Linen Resume Paper: Pros & Cons 

For a thick and durable material, you should choose linen as your resume paper material. It’s weighty, easy to grip, and soft to the touch, all thanks to its unique cross-hatch style texture and natural thickness. 

Much like granite, a linen resume paper is guaranteed to make your resume stand out. Here’s an overview of its pros and cons: 

  • Authentic and classy look
  • Works with most printers
  • Durable and nice to the touch
  • Prone to wrinkling easily

Resume Paper Size

This is probably the easiest resume paper aspect to get right. 

As a rule of thumb, the right resume paper size is the standard paper size in your region. In the US, that’s the letter size (8.5 x 11 inches). 

In Europe and much of the rest of the world, that’s the A4 size (8.27 x 11.69 inches). 

Remember that not following your region’s standard paper size won’t help you stand out from the competition - it will only make you look uninformed and careless. 

Cotton Content on Resume Paper 

Last but not least comes cotton content. 

To understand how important cotton content is for resume paper, just take a look at what it affects:

  • Paper quality and durability
  • Color richness and depth  

Basically, you could have picked the perfect color and material for your resume paper and still leave recruiters unimpressed if the cotton content is low. Meanwhile, if you opt for a medium-quality weight, for example, like the 24lbs one, but with high cotton content, the result is going to impress recruiters much more. 

4 Tips to Choose the Best Resume Paper

At this point, you pretty much know everything there is to know about what makes a resume paper really great. But how exactly do you make the right choice for yourself?

Here are 4 tips for choosing the best possible resume paper for your professional stage: 

  1. Consider the design of your resume template: Does your resume template use dark, contrasting colors or lighter shades of gray and blue? Will it take a lot of ink to print, or does it follow a simplistic design? These details can help you determine what color, material, and the weight you should go for. 
  2. Print out several options: This might be slightly unrealistic if you’re on a budget, but printing out several resumes to use in different situations can be quite beneficial. You can use, for example, ivory parchment paper weighing 32lbs for more traditional positions, or white linen weighing 24lbs for more casual, creative industries. 
  3. Use high-quality paper for executive positions: If you’re applying for executive positions, nothing but the best will cut it. Go for 32lbs, ivory, linen resume paper to make your resume look sophisticated, unique, and professional. 
  4. Adapt to the industry: Being original is one thing and being the black sheep among all other applicants is another. Try to find a balance between originality and conventionality by taking into consideration what your industry finds “acceptable” (e.g. creative industries leave more space for experimenting with the resume paper color and material, whereas more conservative industries undoubtedly prefer more minimalistic and high-quality choices, especially in terms of cotton content and paper material). 

Bottom Line: What Is the Best Resume Paper? 

If all these resume paper options left you feeling a tad confused, don’t worry. 

Although there’s a place and industry for every resume paper, a study comparing different resume layouts showed that traditional paper performs better than more creative options.

The traditional resume printed on white paper performed better than all other options used in the study.

Nonetheless, the message is clear. If you’re on a budget or otherwise conflicted about the resume paper you should use, white paper with high cotton content is a commonplace, safe choice that is unlikely to harm your chances of getting the job. 

Resume Paper FAQ 

If you still have some questions regarding resume paper, you can find our answers to some questions we haven’t covered yet below: 

Q — 

#1. Can I Put My Resume Paper in a Normal Printer?

Although most standard printers can print out resume paper, you’ll have to first check the printer’s manual to make sure it will print resume paper. After you make sure your printer can print resume paper, read the instructions for any specific steps you need to follow. 

If your home printer can’t print resume paper, you can try printing it at a printing store or office supply store.

Q — 

#2. Can I Use A4 for My Resume?

In most cases, the A4 size is perfectly suitable for your resume paper. 

Actually, your printed resume should follow the standard paper size by region. In most of the world, that’s the A4 size (or 210mm x 297mm), whereas in the US and Canada it’s Letter size paper.

Q — 

#3. Should I Staple My Resume?

Most recruiters are not fond of stapled resumes for the simple reason that staples make it difficult to take the resume apart. Not to mention, as a rule of thumb, most resumes shouldn’t be longer than one page, which means you don’t even need to staple it. 

Key Takeaways 

And that’s a wrap! You should have all the info you need in order to pick the right resume paper for you. 

Before you go, though, here are the main points we covered in this article: 

  • Resume paper refers to paper specifically designed for resumes and cover letters. In comparison to regular paper, resume paper usually comes in various colors and is thicker, heavier, and of higher quality.
  • You need to think about resume paper when the job position requires that you submit a printed copy, when you go to a job fair, or when you attend a job interview. 
  • Resume paper quality depends on several factors, including quality, color, texture, size, weight, and cotton content. 
  • Keep in mind that most standard printers can’t handle the highest-quality resume papers, so make sure to go to a printing office to get the best printing results.