What resume paper should I use?

Elle from the move Legally Blonde hands someone her resume

Elle’s resume may have stood out from the crowd, but it can come off as unprofessional in the real world.

Even though the internship and job search has become increasingly digital, there are still scenarios where a physical copy of your resume is expected. Career fairs and interviews are two such times when a physical resume is necessary, and what is often overlooked is the very paper your resume is printed on. It is important to understand that the content of your resume is more important than the paper it is printed on. However, printing your resume on high-quality paper can make it stand out and is more durable than regular paper.

We’ll discuss below the different types of resume paper, but in case you are pressed for time here’s our verdict:

off-white, cotton, 32lb paper


Off-White (Our Recommendation)

This is the safest choice in terms of resume color. While unique shades of grey, blue, and even pink will help you stand out, many employers see them as unprofessional.


Many stores will offer ivory, but it appears yellow in natural light. We recommend viewing the resume in natural and artificial lighting because the paper can look different in natural light than it did in the artificial lighting of the store you bought it in.

Colored Paper

Some resume paper comes in a variety of different colors. However, they are controversial because many employers see them as unprofessional. In some cases, such as for design resumes, colored resume paper could work. Of all the colors, blue is the most neutral and safest.


A paper’s basis weight refers to how much 500 sheets of the uncut paper weighs. Heavier paper literally and figuratively carries more weight.

20lb Copy Paper

This is typical printer paper that many students print essays on. It will not make or break your resume, but it is flimsier and may be seen as less professional than a heavier paper.

32lb Resume Paper (Our Recommendation)

This paper is commonly used for brochures and flyers because of its durability. The ink is not visible from the other side and it does well in two-sided printing. However, for a resume we do not recommend that you print on both sides.

80lb Card Stock

This paper is thick and heavy, which makes it ideal for business cards. However, this level of thickness is not necessary for resumes.


Depending on the finish and weave of the paper, different resume papers can have varying textures.

Cotton (Our Recommendation)

Resume paper infused with cotton lasts longer and makes the paper more durable. Use resume paper that has a smooth finish.


Linen refers to the woven-like texture that is applied to the paper by an embossing process. Some employers like this texture, but others see it as unnecessary and distracting on the resume.


It is easiest to print your resume at your own printer, so if you do not own a printer try to borrow a friend’s printer. There are many locations on campus with printers that do not use the net-print heading, such as the free Human Ecology printer in the Dean’s Lounge (MVR 159). However, in a public location it may be difficult to print your materials on your own paper and some printers may not allow you to change the paper manually.

Want more advice on your resume? Check out what fonts work best on a resume.

Preparing for an interview? Check out these blog posts!