The paper you choose to print your resume on will affect how it looks and feels in the hands of a hiring manager. Using a professional resume paper is one of the best ways to leave a positive, lasting impression, and it will communicate that you’re serious about the role.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about resume paper, what type, weight, texture, color, and size of paper works best, and what (in our opinion) is the best resume paper.
What is resume paper?
Resume paper is high-quality paper specifically designed to print your resume or other important documents on.
Many job seekers believe that resume paper and regular printer paper are the same. This is incorrect.
Resume paper vs. regular paper
Resume paper is thicker, heavier, and higher quality than regular printer paper. Resume paper also features a more refined color and comes in various types and styles.
Is resume paper necessary?
Usually, resume paper isn’t necessary. Nearly all jobs now accept online applications in PDF or Word Doc format.
However, there are still some situations when printing a hard copy of your resume is necessary:
- You’re attending an in-person interview
- You want to check out a job fair
- You’re mailing a physical copy of your resume
Moreover, when printing your resume is necessary, you’ll want it to look professional, have good color, and have a fancy, nice look-and-feel to it when employers are holding it.
Using high-quality paper ensures your resume looks top-notch and that you leave a great first impression with the hiring manager.
Where to buy resume paper?
You can find basic resume paper at any big brick-and-mortar store like Target, Bestbuy, or Walmart. For more options, office supply stores such as Staples, FedEx, and Office Depot boast a more comprehensive selection of resume paper with different colors, weights, and stocks.
Here are some links where you can also buy resume paper online:
What are the best resume paper brands?
If you’re on a budget, companies like HP produce affordable resume paper.
But if you want your resume to pop, Southworth resume paper is the industry standard and is widely available.
Choosing the best resume paper
At Resume Genius, we believe the best resume paper is linen 100% cotton (32lb) for most people. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the only option.
If our pick sounds confusing, keep reading, and it’ll be thoroughly explained.
First, you need to know that resume paper differs in four distinct aspects:
Resume paper color
You’ll need to decide what color paper to print your resume on before doing anything else.
Ivory vs. white paper
The two most common resume paper colors are ivory and white, and whichever you decide to use will affect your resume’s look and color depth.
White resume paper is crisp, easy to read, and makes the colors on your resume pop. It’s also great for graphic designers, artists, or anyone making a visual resume with designs and graphs to display.
Meanwhile, ivory resume paper has an earthy tone and conveys a refined, timeless look that’s best for those making a more conservative resume, such as office managers or anyone working in a corporate environment.
Here’s a color comparison of both white (pictured left) and ivory (pictured right) resume paper:
While you can’t go wrong with either paper color, we recommend using ivory resume paper because its unique earthy color looks highly professional, and can make your resume stand out from others in a pile.
Our verdict: choose ivory resume paper to help your resume look distinctive.
Resume paper weight
Another important factor that can affect the hiring manager’s opinion of your resume is the thickness of the sheet, otherwise referred to as the weight.
Paper typically comes in three different weights: 20, 24, and 32lb, with 20lb paper being the standard for office printing paper (the weight is measured per each package of 500 sheets of paper, otherwise known as a ream).
Meanwhile, your typical resume paper is usually the heavier 24 or 32lb version, which makes it thicker and more durable.
Should you choose 24lb or 32lb resume paper?
For most people, the decision over whether to choose 24lb or 32lb resume paper comes down to price.
If you’re okay spending more, 32lb resume paper is the best option. It’s thicker, more weighty, and will give your resume an impressive, official feel when someone is holding it.
On the other hand, 24lb paper is more transparent and flimsy. However, it’s still an acceptable option if you want to save money, and will always be better than printing your resume on standard 20lb office paper.
Our verdict: buy 32lb resume paper if you can afford it.
Resume paper texture and material
Next, you’ll need to consider both the material and texture your resume paper is made of.
Resume paper material
Regarding your resume paper material, there’s only one aspect most people need to worry about – cotton content.
Basically, the cotton content of your resume paper will affect the sheet’s:
- Color saturation and depth
- Weight and thickness
- Crispness and softness
You nearly always want to go for a higher cotton content (75% or above). This will ensure your resume not only looks great but is also nice to hold.
Unfortunately, higher cotton resume paper will be more expensive, but if you’re looking to print a professional-looking resume, it’s a necessity.
You can also find more-niche materials to make your resume out of, such as recycled paper or even parchment (although using parchment isn’t recommended because it’s the same material baking paper is made out of.)
Resume paper texture
Now that you’ve figured out your cotton content, you need to tackle your resume paper texture. Luckily, there’s a wide array of paper textures that you can choose from.
Along with the material (cotton content) you choose for your resume paper, the texture will also play a role in how it feels in the hiring manager’s hands.
Depending on which texture you choose, you can make your resume feel smooth or rough to the touch, all of which can make your resume more memorable.
Plain (Standard Cotton Paper)
Have you printed anything recently? It was likely printed on plain paper.
Plain is always a safe choice because it’s the paper texture everyone is most familiar with. Plain paper is used in most offices worldwide to print everyday documents, making it the cheapest and least flashy option for your resume paper texture.
If money is an issue, and you’re not concerned with making your resume paper’s texture stand out, going with plain paper is absolutely fine.
Linen paper has a unique cross-hatch style texture that makes it weighty and easy to grip (similar to granite). You can think of it as having the feel and consistency of a rugged matt, but with a soft touch.
Linen is an excellent choice for your resume paper if you want your resume to be thicker and more durable.
Next, we have granite. Choosing granite-textured paper will give your resume a speckled and semi-rocky feel to it. Granite textured paper feels like very light sandpaper, but fine enough that it’s not too rough in the reader’s hands.
Additionally, granite will give off a darker color compared with plain resume paper.
Choose granite if you want an original and elegant-looking resume that’s easy to grip and feels nice in the hiring manager’s hands.
Finally, there’s laid resume paper. Laid paper has embossed lines that will appear as tiny rolling waves on the surface of your resume. It’s meant to emulate how paper initially looked before production advances evolved it into the flat surface we see today.
Choosing laid paper texture can provide your resume with a sophisticated look and feel. However, after printing, ensure you double-check that the raised lines don’t negatively affect your resume’s text and font quality.
What’s the best resume paper size?
One of the last things to consider when buying resume paper is the size of the page.
In the U.S., always stick with 8.5 x 11 inches for your resume paper size unless stated otherwise by the employer.
Otherwise, you’ll likely be disqualified by a hiring manager as a candidate for the job immediately.
Resume paper comparison
If you’re still wondering what paper to print your resume on, don’t worry. To help you decide, we went out and purchased the top 6 types of resume paper from Kinkos and rated them on their look and feel.
1. Linen 100% Cotton (32lb) ★★★★★
In our opinion, 32lb linen was by far the best resume paper we tried.
The linen finish has a unique, premium texture that makes holding the paper enjoyable. Additionally, standard linen paper is 100% cotton and weighs 32lb, making it durable.
Linen paper is the best choice to give your resume a sophisticated look and make a lasting impression on the hiring manager.
2. White 100% Cotton (32lb) ★★★★☆
If you want to play it safe, 32lb white cotton paper is the perfect choice for printing your resume on.
Being textureless and having a plain-colorless stock, 32lb white cotton paper keep distractions to a minimum, making your resume look crisp and formal. Meanwhile, the heavier weight also gives it a nice heft.
The only thing 32lb white cotton resume paper lacks is something that sets it apart from the competition, like a distinctive texture or color.
3. White 100% Cotton (24lb) ★★★☆☆
To further highlight the difference resume paperweight can make, we also bought white 100% cotton paper in 24lb variety.
Immediately, we noticed the paper is flimsier, less impressive, and more likely to get crumpled than its higher-quality 32lb counterpart. However, this resume paper is still an acceptable choice if you need something understated and formal on a budget.
4. Ivory 25% Cotton (32lb) ★★☆☆☆
Sophisticated and subtle, ivory 32lb paper is a great choice if you need a resume paper with some flair. The warm ivory color stands out and gives your resume a timeless, chic look.
However, the low cotton content prevents us from wholeheartedly recommending this resume paper. At 25% cotton, it lacks the premium feeling and pleasant texture that 100% ivory cotton paper has.
5. Ivory 100% Cotton (24lb) ★★★☆☆
This 24lb ivory resume paper is nearly identical to the previous 32lb version, except that it boasts a higher cotton content — and it makes a big difference.
While the previous 32lb ivory resume paper weighed more, we found that the higher cotton content of this 24lb version made a big difference.
A higher percentage of cotton toughens the paper, making it harder to tear and crease. Additionally, the cotton adds a pleasant texture, making your resume feel more premium.
Remember, paper with a higher percentage of cotton lasts longer. This is a solid option if you need a durable resume paper with a classic look.
6. Ivory 25% Cotton (24lb) ★★☆☆☆
This 24lb, 25% cotton ivory paper was the least impressive resume paper option we purchased.
While ivory looks timeless and classy on higher-quality paper, the colors are washed out on this lower-cotton sheet. The printed resume’s colors actually look like they’re stained.
Additionally, the lighter weight is noticeable. Compared to a 32lb ivory sheet, this 24lb variety of ivory resume paper feels flimsy and cheap.
Although it improves 20lb regular printer paper, we can’t recommend this resume paper.
Where can I print my resume?
If you don’t own a printer at home, you can easily get your resume printed on the paper of your choice at these shops or locations:
- Office Depot
- Your local public library