Find out what paper you should use for your CV

Choosing the right paper for your CV is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your professional presentation and leave a lasting impression on potential employers. In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about CV paper, including weight, colour, and size, your printing options, and tips for choosing the best CV paper.

What is a CV paper?

Believe it or not, CV paper isn't just your bog-standard A4 white paper. There's a type of paper specifically for printing CVs. 

However, in the UK, you'll rarely see a CV paper advertised as “CV paper.” It's typically branded as “business paper.” It's different in the US, where resume paper exists widely, as it is more common to print a resume than a CV.

That said, there are reasons why you would consider printing a professional version of your CV in the UK, including:

  • Networking events: If you attend a networking event, conference, or job fair, consider printing professional copies of your CV to circulate with potential employers.

  • In-person interviews: Providing a hard copy of your CV during an interview, especially one printed on business paper, is an easy way to elevate your candidacy. It shows you're prepared and professional.

  • Traditional application methods: Certain industries or smaller businesses may require a physical copy of your CV or would willingly take one over a digital application. Printing your CV on professional-grade paper will make a great first impression.

Why is it important to use CV paper?

Printing your CV on CV paper may seem excessive. While you can print your CV on standard white copy paper, there are many benefits to using professional CV paper, including:

  • Enhanced professionalism: Using high-quality CV paper will elevate the presentation of your CV. This will show employers that you have a keen eye for detail and a commitment to professionalism.

  • Distinctive appearance: If you've printed your CV on business paper and another applicant uses standard copy paper, yours will be more memorable and visually appealing, setting you apart from the competition

  • Perceived value: Using high-grade CV paper is a subtle way to convey a sense of value and importance about your application. It demonstrates that you have invested time and effort into your application, proving to employers how much you are dedicated to the role.

  • Improved durability and handling: If you take your CV to a job interview, business paper will ensure it stays pristine, as it is sturdier and less prone to damage than standard printer paper.

What type of paper should a CV be printed on?

We have established that the type of paper to print your CV is business paper. However, there are different types of business paper; the most common is a 75% cotton and 25% linen blend. Here's what else you need to know about types of paper when choosing a type to print your CV on:

  • Cotton: Cotton paper is renowned for its crispness and formality and offers unparalleled quality for formal documentation, such as CVs or legal documents. The percentage of cotton in paper determines its durability and texture. 

  • Linen: Linen paper is embossed with a naturally thick texture that resembles linen fabric. Its distinctive textured finish exudes elegance and professionalism.

  • Parchment: Parchment paper has a subtle texture which is reminiscent of linen. It is also associated with official documents and conveys a sense of authenticity and prestige. 

  • Granite: Granite paper is often made of recycled materials and typically has darker speckles dispersed throughout. It's an eco-friendly choice for printed materials. 

What is the best paper weight for a CV?

Paper weight is typically measured in grams per square metre (GSM), and professional-grade paper is no different. CV paper can range from 80 to 120 GSM. Here's a breakdown of what each weight means:

  • 80 GSM: If you choose CV paper, 80 GSM is perfectly fine. This weight is suitable for everyday use and the perfect balance between quality and affordability.

  • 90 GSM: If you plan to handle your CV frequently or post it, 90 GSM is a good paper weight as it is more durable. However, it's more expensive.

  • 100 GSM: If you want luxury, 100 GSM is your paper weight. It's noticeably thicker than the lighter options, and the added weight aids print quality too.

  • 120+ GSM: Higher paper weights likely aren't the best option for your CV. While they offer maximum durability and thickness, they're best saved for documentation like product catalogues or event programmes. 

Which paper colour is the best for a CV?

You can purchase CV paper in a variety of colours. As a rule of thumb, you can't go wrong with white. However, you may want to branch out, considering your industry's professional standards and conventions. Here are a few options to consider:

  • White: White is a timeless classic. Universally accepted as the standard for professional documents, it offers a clean, pristine background, letting any text stand out with sharp contrast.

  • Ivory: Ivory is a subtle off-white colour that adds warmth and sophistication to your CV. It's a softer alternative to white but still conveys professionalism.

  • Cream: Cream-coloured paper also adds a hint of warmth and elegance. It's easy on the eye and an alternative to ivory.

  • Oyster: Oyster is light grey with subtle undertones. It's a refined and modern alternative to traditional white paper.

  • Satin: Satin paper is a smooth and glossy luxury. It subtly reflects light, which can enhance the visual appeal of your CV.

  • Eggshell: Eggshell paper is reminiscent of the delicate shade of eggshell and offers a soft and understated appearance. Its gentle contrast to black text is a visually pleasing experience.

  • Champagne: Champagne-coloured paper is pale with a muted gold hue and warm undertones. It can add a touch of opulence to any CV.

  • Pewter: Pewter paper is a medium grey colour with muted undertones. Its dark colour offers a sleek and sophisticated backdrop for CV content.

Which paper size should I print my CV on?

While you can experiment with paper types, weights, and colours, it's best not to venture outside the norm for CV paper size. You should always print your CV on A4 paper, which measures 210 x 297 millimetres (8.27 x 11.69 inches). 

This is the most common paper size for the UK, Europe, and most international settings. However, the US is different. The standard paper size for printing a resume or CV is letter size, which measures 8.5 x 11 inches (216 x 279 millimetres). 

How can I print my CV?

If you're looking to print your CV, you probably have a few options up your sleeve. However, if you're using professional-grade paper, check that your chosen printer is up to the task. Here are a few ways to print your CV:

    • Home printer: If you're lucky enough to have a printer at home, then good for you as it's the most convenient way to print your CV. Remember to adjust your printer settings to be compatible with your chosen paper.

    • Local print shop: Many local print shops offer printing services. You can email them the file or bring a USB drive. They will likely have many paper types and styles, too. 

    • Stationery store: Office supply and stationery shops can print your CV. Like local print shops, you can email them your file, bring it on a USB, and choose your paper in-store. Stores include Ryman and WHSmith.

    • Online printing services: Hundreds of online printing services allow you to upload your CV and choose printing options, like the paper type, weight, and colour. They can also post it to any location you like. Popular services include VistaPrint and instantprint.

University or college print services: If you're a student or graduate of a university or college, you can check to see if they have a printing service you can use. If so, they may also have paper options available at discounted rates.

Public libraries: Sometimes, public libraries provide printing services for a small fee. Just remember to store your CV on the cloud so you can access it on one of the library computers easily.

Tips for choosing the best paper for your CV

Here's a rundown of our top eight tips for selecting the best CV paper:

1. Consider paper weight and thickness

When choosing CV paper, always pay attention to the weight and thickness. Select sturdy paper to withstand any posting or handling without crumpling or tearing. A paper weight between 80 and 120 GSM is ideal for a CV, but be aware that paper with higher GSM values is thicker and may not be compatible with a home printer.

2. Select the right colour

You can never go wrong with traditional white or off-white CV paper, as it's standard for professional settings. However, subtle variations may be appropriate for your industry or relate to your personal brand better and showcase your personality. When choosing a paper colour, ensure it complements the style and content of your CV, and always avoid bright and flashy colours as they can detract from professionalism.

3. Examine the cotton content of the paper

Business paper is often a blend of cotton with another material. When choosing your CV paper, review the cotton content. Higher percentages of cotton often result in a smoother, more durable paper with a premium feel. Opt for at least 25% cotton paper for the best results.

4. Think about the texture

When selecting CV paper, think about the texture and how it will work with the content and design of your CV. Smooth paper is a classic, professional choice. Still, if you want to showcase your personality, you may go for a subtly textured paper, like parchment or papyrus (also known as “laid” texture). Ensure the texture doesn't overpower your CV's content or design.

5. Select a paper that complements your CV's aesthetic

You should choose a CV paper tailored to your CV's style. If you're in a technical field that's somewhat clinical, smooth and cool-coloured, CV paper exudes professionalism and aligns with colour palettes and styles from the tech sector. 

However, if you're a marketer who wants to demonstrate design and creativity, you could opt for textured paper in neutral tones, which suggests elegance while still allowing vibrant colours and graphics to pop.

6. Choose a paper that's within your budget

Paper can be affordable and expensive. While ideating what style and type of paper is best for your CV, pay attention to the price tags during your research and set a budget you're comfortable with. 

7. Test print samples

You wouldn't paint a room unless you'd painted a test patch first to see if it's the right vibe. The same rule of thumb applies to CV paper. Test print samples of different types of paper to determine which one best suits your preferences and needs. Consider the whole picture: texture, colour, thickness, and print quality. 

8. Consider environmental impact

If you're passionate about sustainability or applying for a job in that sector, choose paper made from recycled materials (granite paper) or sourced from sustainable forests. When buying paper, look for certifications such as FSC, PEFC or the NAPM recycled mark to ensure it meets recognised environmental standards. 

There's more to choosing CV paper than grabbing standard white copy paper and clicking “print.” If you've decided that printing your CV will enhance your job application or interview, submit your CV for a free review, and we'll tell you how compatible it is with your paper choices.

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