When people buy copy paper, they tend to choose the cheapest option – after all, it’s just a sheet of paper, right? Well, not necessarily.    

While most types of copy paper have the same basic specifications, they’re not all the same. Generally speaking, the more expensive the paper, the higher the quality.   

At Egyptian Workspace Partners, we strive to help our clients find the office supplies they need to increase employee productivity.  

In this article, we’ll break down the factors that impact the final cost of copy paper, as well as a general price range, so you know what to look for the next time you buy paper.    

What Factors Impact the Cost of Copy Paper? 

1. SIZE

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the size of a piece of paper, the higher the price.  

In the United States, there are three main sizes of copy paper to choose from:  

  • Letter Size (8.5 x 11) – As the most economical size, letter-size paper is also the most common size in the United States. 
  • Legal Size (8.5 x 14) – Legal size paper is used for legal documents such as wills.  
  • Ledger Size (11 x 17) – Also known as tabloid paper, ledger size has a larger format that may be better suited for specific projects or tasks. This type of paper is the most expensive option.  

2. WEIGHT AND THICKNESS

If you’re on the hunt for copy paper, it’s important to understand the weight of paper and how it affects the print quality of your materials.  

The weight of a piece of copy paper will determine how you should use it. Lower-weight paper is standard and suitable for everyday use, while thicker-weight paper is heavier and intended for special projects.  

For example, 20-lb copy paper is the most common weight of copy paper. Used for single-sided printing and copying, this type of paper is competitively priced and the best seller by far.  

Heavier paper may be more expensive, but it looks professional and makes a statement. This type of paper is recommended for two-sided copies, as well as special applications like letterheads, newsletters, bulletins, flyers, and brochures.  

You may not want to spend more money on heavier paper, but it can save you money. Instead of hiring and outsourcing a commercial printer, you can print all your materials in-house.   

3. Brightness and Whiteness Rating 

Most people use brightness with whiteness interchangeably. However, brightness has nothing to do with whiteness and vice-versa.  

If copy paper has a higher brightness or whiteness rating, the colors will pop, appear more vibrant, and enhance the contrast. Ultimately, paper with a higher brightness or whiteness rating will cost more.  

Brightness is the volume of light reflected off a sheet of paper. Rated on a scale of zero to 100, the brightness rating measures a paper’s ability to reflect light. The higher the number, the brighter the paper.  

Also ranked on a zero to 100 scale, whiteness measures the reflection of all wavelengths of light across the visible spectrum. Copy paper with a high whiteness rating can appear to have a blue-white tint depending on the light source you view it.   

The 100 limit is standard for copy paper made with pulp. Sometimes, manufacturers add optical brightening agents to make the paper appear brighter and whiter. These additives reflect ultraviolet light as visible light and increase the whiteness value to over 100.   

4. Specialty Features 

Coating 

When it comes to coating, copy paper falls into one of two categories: coated or uncoated.  

Coated paper improves and enhances the quality of inkjet printing. Made of a hardened clay material, this type of paper is coated on one side and has either a matte or glossy finish.  

Coated paper can be more expensive than uncoated paper, but it provides sharper detail and denser color. It’s typically used for brochures, catalogs, postcards, and packaging.  

Uncoated paper is absorbent and has a non-glare surface that can be textured or smooth. It’s easy to write on and works best for stationery, flyers, and newsletters.  

Color 

If you want to create documents that draw attention to your message, a pop of color can help you do that.  

From pastel to neon, color paper is always an option to consider – but color paper costs more than basic white paper, especially when you’re printing hundreds of copies.  

With a 20-lb weight rating, pastel colors are less expensive than bright and neon colors, which typically have a 24-lb rating. If you want to use color paper and keep your costs down, you should opt for a lower-price pastel paper.   

5. Packaging Quantities

From a ream to a truckload, there are several ways to buy copy paper – and all these options affect the final cost. In fact, you can save money by buying paper in larger quantities.  

Some of the different ways you can buy paper include:  

  • Ream – A ream of paper holds 500 sheets of paper, which makes it the most expensive option per sheet price.  
  • Hybrid Size Carton – A hybrid size carton holds three to eight reams of paper. 
  • Full Carton – A full carton holds 10 reams (5000 sheets of paper).  
  • Multiple Cartons – As an efficient option for several types of businesses, you can order multiple cartons of paper in one delivery.  
  • Pallet - A pallet holds 40 cartons (200,000 sheets of paper).   
  • Truck Load – A truckload typically holds 21 pallets (4,200,000 sheets of paper).  

6. Paper Delivery 


At 50 pounds a carton, copy paper weighs a lot – which means it can be very expensive to ship. The type of delivery you choose can also impact the final price.  

Most paper suppliers offer three types of delivery:  

  • White Glove Delivery – As the most expensive option, white glove delivery will save you time and labor. We’ll either set your delivery next to the copy machine, or wherever else you store paper. Note: this type of delivery is not available in all markets.  
  • Front Door Delivery – Front door delivery is exactly what it sounds like. We’ll drop your paper at the front door, so all you have to do is move it where it needs to go.  
  • Dock Delivery – With dock delivery, we’ll pull up to your dock so you or an employee can forklift it off the back of our truck. 

7. Storage and Usage

When you buy copy paper in bulk sizes, you need to be mindful of how often you use paper, how you plan to store it, and the hidden costs of storing it.    

By having a climate-controlled storage facility, you can store paper for up to a year – and save money by buying less paper on a regular basis.  

If you don’t have a climate-controlled storage facility, the humidity and moisture can enter the paper if you’re unable to use it fast enough.  

Additionally, you should factor in the internal labor costs of moving paper from your storage facility to your office, and the cost per square foot of the space you use to store your paper.  

What is the Final Price of Copy Paper?  

So, how much does copy paper cost? The short answer: it depends on the quality, weight, and whether you buy in bulk.  

For instance, a standard sheet of white copy paper is the most economical option. Premium paper, on the other hand, is more expensive.  

Overall, a carton of paper can cost anywhere from $25 to $100.

Are You Ready to Take the Next Steps? 

Want to learn more about copy paper or other types of business products? As your single source for office essentials, your partners at Egyptian are here to help. Schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated account managers today! 

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Brett Baltz

Written by Brett Baltz