How to Choose the Right Paper for your certificate

Our guide to choosing the right paper and creating your certificates

Are you thinking about printing your own certificates? Here’s what you need to consider.

What do you need?

Here are a few of the basic tools and materials you need to create and print your own certificates:

  • Computer or laptop with document editing software with merge print capability such as MS Word
  • Laser or inkjet printer
  • Your choice of paper
  • Your choice of Certificate Holders or Frames

Of course, each of these items comes with a world of options—making the right decisions can transform the look and feel of the finished product.

Ready to Print

Think of this question when planning your recognition certificate presentation “Will the recipients be so impressed and appreciative of the look, feel and sincerity of the certificate that they will proudly show it to colleagues, friends and family and even frame it ?” Exceptional certificates become treasured keepsakes.

Done right, recognition is a very powerful motivator. It is one of the most effective ways to improve the engagement, commitment and retention of your most important individuals and teams.

Ease of use

The templates are pre-formatted and can be modified to suit your needs or you can easily create your own. They are located here on our Corporate site along with detailed instructions.

What paper do you need?

Paper is one of the most momentous forks in the road when it comes to improving the quality and durability of your certificate. While regular copy paper works just fine, a unique or hard-won accomplishment might call for an upgrade.

Archival paper which is acid and lignin free is the best choice since it will resist discoloration and fiber breakdown for many decades.

Please know that you should consider a 65lb card stock if the certificate is likely to be displayed in a frame.

Over time thinner paper absorbs moisture and can appear wrinkled inside a frame.

These are the main factors we recommend considering when choosing the paper for your certificate:

Smoothness (sheffield finish)

A smoother printing surface generally translates to a more refined result. Uneven surfaces often interfere with the toner’s ability to bind, leading to visible imperfections.


Most printers can take cardstock weights of up to 65 pounds. Paper is sold by weight rather than thickness, a centuries old practice. Basis weights can be confusing to navigate. For example, a 24-pound bond is the weight of 500 sheets of paper measuring 17 by 22 inches. It can also be stated as 60lb text, 500 sheets of 25 x 38 inches. 65lb card stock is the weight of 500 sheets 20 x 26”, is about twice as thick as a 24lb bond sheet and much stiffer

Recycled Paper

At St. James, we believe in practicing environmental sustainability wherever possible. Recycled paper is more than able to achieve the smoothness required to produce exceptional results. All St James Papers contain recycled post-consumer content, are FSC® certified with an independent annual audit, Green Seal certified and archival, acid and lignin free.

What type of printer should you use?

Most desktop printers, laser and inkjet, perform well. While inkjet printers are less expensive than their laser counterparts, the ink on a freshly printed sheet must be dried to prevent smearing or transfer. Drying time largely depends on how porous your paper is—the more porous the paper, the faster ink will dry. However, if your paper is too porous, dot gain can occur, potentially causing characters to blur and distort in size. Not porous enough and smearing is likely.

If you prefer to use the thicker 65 lb card stock sheets, we strongly recommend that you use a printer with a straight thru paper path. If your printer paper output is on the same side as your paper tray, the card stock will curl from the heat of the fusing roller; think of the effect of a curling iron on human hair.

Premium certificates suited for any occasion.

At St. James Paper, we believe that some special occasions call for a personal, professional, and premium touch. Order ready-to-print certificates that can be printed or filled in by hand, or choose our ready-to-present option where we do all the merge printing for you and insertion in a holder or frame … Presentation Ready!


We would love to discuss your needs and how we can help you improve the Recognition & engagement of individuals on your teams.

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