Resume Paper vs Cardstock: [Deciding the Best Option for You]

resume paper vs cardstock

When applying for a job, the presentation of your resume can make a significant impact on how potential employers perceive your application. With so many applicants vying for the same positions, using the right resume paper can help your application stand out from the crowd. In this article, we will be exploring the differences between resume paper and cardstock, as well as the factors to consider when choosing the best material for your resume.

Resume paper and cardstock are both popular choices among job seekers, but they come with varied features that can affect the overall impression of your resume. The kind of paper you opt for will depend on several factors, including the industry you are applying to, the level of professionalism you’d like to convey, and the submission format of your resume—either in person or digitally.

Key Takeaways

  • Resume paper and cardstock differ in thickness and texture, affecting the presentation of your resume.
  • Choosing the right material for your resume should consider industry requirements, professionalism, and submission methods.
  • Factors like colors, durability, paper size, and format can also influence how your resume is perceived by potential employers.

Resume Paper vs Cardstock

Weight and Thickness

Resume paper and cardstock are two different types of paper with distinctive characteristics. They vary in weight, thickness, and appearance, which is important to consider when choosing the best option for a resume.

Resume paper is typically lighter, weighing between 20 to 24 pounds (lb), whereas cardstock is heavier, with a weight range of 65 to 80 lb or more. Cardstock’s thickness is measured in points (pt), typically between 10 to 16 pt, while resume paper’s thickness is measured in inches, with specifications like 20 lb/75 gsm or 24 lb/90 gsm.

Paper TypeWeightThickness
Resume Paper20-24 lb75-90 gsm
Cardstock65-80 lb10-16 pt

Surface Texture

The surface texture of both resume paper and cardstock plays a significant role in how a resume is perceived. Resume paper usually has a smooth, professional finish or a slightly textured, linen-like weave. Texture choice typically depends on personal preference and the desired impression one wants to create. Resume paper can include ivory or white color options, providing a luxurious yet understated touch.

Cardstock paper is available in a wide assortment of textures, ranging from smooth to heavily textured. This diversity is beneficial for creative projects but may not be appropriate for professional resumes which require a more understated appearance. Cardstock may overshadow the resume content and distract from important information.

In conclusion, when selecting paper for a resume, the choice between resume paper and cardstock depends on factors such as weight, thickness, and surface texture. Resume paper is generally preferred for professional applications due to its lighter weight, suitable thickness, and refined appearance. However, cardstock should be considered when a particular creative or artistic touch is desired.

Selecting Material for Your Resume

When selecting the right material for your resume, it’s important to choose a paper that will show off your professionalism and stand out among the competition. In this section, we will discuss three popular types of paper: Cotton Paper, Linen Paper, and Parchment Paper.

Cotton Paper

a resume written on real resume paper and a couple of cardstock papers

Cotton paper is a high-quality material with a soft, tactile feel that lends an air of sophistication to your resume. It typically contains a blend of cotton and wood pulp, with the cotton content ranging from 25% to 100%. The higher the cotton content, the more luxurious and durable the paper is, making it less likely to yellow over time or get damaged by moisture or rough handling.

Cotton paper is available in various weights, with 24lb and 32lb options being popular for resumes. The heavier the paper, the more impressive it will feel in the hands of potential employers.

Linen Paper

Linen paper mimics the look and texture of linen fabric, adding a unique and elegant flair to your resume. This type of paper is generally made from high-quality wood pulp, with a noticeable woven pattern on its surface, which gives it an upscale appearance.

Like cotton paper, linen paper comes in different weights, with 24lb and 32lb options being suitable for resumes. The choice of weight boils down to personal preference and the desired impression you want to create.

Parchment Paper

Parchment paper offers an antique, historic look that can make your resume stand out in a creative way. Made from either cotton, cellulose, or a combination of both, parchment paper features a mottled, slightly translucent appearance reminiscent of old-world documents.

Although parchment paper may not be the ideal choice for every industry or job application, it could be a suitable choice for specific fields like graphic design or other creative industries where a unique presentation is appreciated.

Overall, determining the perfect material for your resume depends on the image you want to project, your targeted industry, and your personal style. While all these paper types provide quality options, be sure to consider the impact that your choice may have on the recipient and ensure that your selected material reflects your professionalism.

Colors and Aesthetics

White and Ivory

White and ivory are the most common colors for resume paper. These colors convey a sense of professionalism, simplicity, and neutrality. White is often the safer choice, as it is the standard color for printed documents and regarded as the universally accepted option. Ivory, on the other hand, offers a slightly warmer touch and can give the impression of sophistication and refinement. Both colors are available in resume paper and cardstock options, ensuring a high-quality feel regardless of your color choice.

Colored Resume Paper

In some cases, candidates may opt for colored resume paper to create a memorable first impression or to reflect their personality. This choice can be risky, as not every employer may appreciate vivid or unusual colors on your resume. Soft, neutral tones like gray or beige are usually more readily accepted than bright or dark hues. Colored cardstock adds another layer to consider, as the thickness and texture may not be appropriate for all job applications.

When selecting a colored resume paper or cardstock, it is crucial to consider the intended industry and company culture. Creative fields such as graphic design, advertising, or the arts might be more open to unique color choices. However, more traditional industries like finance, law, or healthcare might appreciate a more conservative approach. To strike a balance, always pair the colored paper with a professional, easy-to-read font and layout.

Importance of Durability

Durable Materials

Woman holding huge sheets of white paper

When choosing paper for a resume, it is essential to consider the durability of the material. A durable resume will withstand handling, transportation, and storage without showing signs of wear or damage. The two popular materials that fall into this category are resume paper and cardstock.

Resume paper is typically made from cotton or a combination of cotton and wood pulp, providing a sturdy, heavy, and professional feel. The weight of resume paper can range from 24 to 32 pounds, providing a balance of durability and ease of use.

Cardstock, on the other hand, is a thicker and more durable material, often ranging from 65 to 100 pound in weight. This heavy paper is usually made from a blend of wood pulp and synthetic fibers, providing a strong and rigid structure.

Long-lasting Impressions

The durability of a resume not only speaks to its physical condition but also to the impression it leaves on the reader. A resume printed on high-quality, durable paper communicates professionalism and attention to detail – traits that are highly valued in the job market.

A durable resume made from either resume paper or cardstock is less likely to become crumpled, smudged, or torn during handling, leaving a positive, long-lasting impression on the recipient. This simple yet significant factor may give job seekers an edge over applicants using lower-quality materials.

In conclusion, both resume paper and cardstock offer a high degree of durability and longevity, making them suitable choices for a professional and polished resume. Ultimately, the decision between the two materials will depend on individual preferences for weight, thickness, and overall presentation.

Paper Size and Format

When considering the use of resume paper or cardstock, it is essential to understand the differences in paper size and format. Standard paper sizes vary among countries; however, the most common sizes associated with resumes are Letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) in the United States and A4 size (8.27 x 11.69 inches) internationally.

Resume paper, typically weighing between 20-32 lb, is a slightly heavier and textured option compared to regular printing paper. It provides a more sophisticated and professional appearance when printed. Selecting the appropriate paper weight and texture can contribute to making a strong impression on the recipient.

Cardstock, on the other hand, is generally thicker and more rigid, with weights ranging from 50-110 lb. While it can be used for resumes in creative industries or professions where presentation is crucial, cardstock may not be as widely accepted, especially for traditional job applications. Its thickness can make it challenging to fold, scan, or mail, which may be important factors during the application process.

In terms of format, both resume paper and cardstock should maintain a simple, clean, and legible layout. Avoid unnecessary design elements that may detract from the content. Formatting tools such as bullet points, tables, and bold text can be used to emphasize specific sections, skills, or achievements. Additionally, ensure that the font size and style are consistent throughout the document, as these elements contribute to the overall presentation and readability of the resume.

In conclusion, it is vital to consider the target industry and position when deciding between resume paper and cardstock. Take into account the size, weight, and formatting requirements to ensure that the chosen material aligns with professional expectations and conveys the desired impression. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, ultimately leaving the final decision in the candidate’s hands.

Printing and Presentation

Printing Techniques

Smiling woman throwing sheets of paper up in the air

When it comes to printing your resume, the type of paper you choose will greatly impact the end result. Printer paper or copy paper may be a more affordable option, but it can also lead to poor quality prints and a less professional-looking presentation. On the other hand, printing on high-quality paper, such as resume paper or cardstock, will provide a sharp, clean, and polished appearance.

In addition to considering the paper type, it’s essential to select the appropriate printing method. Laser printing is generally preferable for resumes, as it produces crisp text and vibrant colors on thicker stock. However, be cautious when printing on cardstock, as some inkjet printers may leave streaks or inconsistencies.

Resume Templates

When crafting your resume, an effective template is vital for conveying your skills and experiences in a well-organized manner. With countless templates available online, it is essential to select one that matches both your industry and the level of formality expected by potential employers.

While basic templates work well on standard printer paper, if you opt for higher-quality paper such as resume paper or cardstock, consider a more sophisticated template that showcases your attention to detail. This may include adding simple yet elegant design elements, such as lines or shading.

In conclusion, the choice between printer paper and cardstock for your resume will depend on factors like printing techniques and template selection. Always strive to present a polished and professional final product.

Professional Touches


Watermarks add a subtle, yet notable touch of professionalism to any resume. These faint designs are typically pressed into the paper during the manufacturing process, and are visible when held up against light. They demonstrate the attention to detail and thoughtfulness one puts into their resume, helping them stand out from the competition. High-quality paper, such as resume paper, often comes with a watermark to indicate its premium quality.


Embossing adds another layer of visual appeal to a resume by creating raised, textured designs on its surface. Like watermarks, embossing demonstrates the extra effort and thought put into crafting the perfect resume. It effectively distinguishes a resume from others and attracts attention to crucial information. Cardstock, with its thicker and heavier material, is ideal for embossing as it can better maintain the raised design without the risk of damage over time.

In-person Submissions

When submitting a physical copy of your resume for a job application, the choice between resume paper and cardstock can make a difference in how you stand out to potential employers. The type of paper you choose can vary based on the context of the job search, such as job interviews, career fairs, or job fairs.

Resume paper, which is a thicker and higher-quality paper than regular paper, can create a more professional impression when applied in a job application context. It feels more substantial in the hand, improving the overall presentation of your resume. Using such paper demonstrates attention to detail and implies that the applicant values the opportunity enough to invest in better-quality materials.

On the other hand, cardstock is even thicker than resume paper and may be perceived as too heavy for a resume. While it is durable and long-lasting, it can seem excessive for a document meant for brief review by hiring managers. Additionally, cardstock can be more challenging to print on and may result in lower-quality printed text or images.

In job interviews, presenting your resume on high-quality resume paper can make a positive first impression on the interviewer. The weight and texture of the paper communicate professionalism and dedication, potentially giving you an edge over other candidates.

During career fairs or job fairs, you may encounter situations where recruiters collect numerous resumes from applicants. Using resume paper can help your document stand out visually and physically from the stack, capturing the attention of hiring professionals as they review numerous submissions.

In conclusion, when it comes to in-person submissions of job applications, choosing resume paper over cardstock is generally a better option. It strikes a balance between professionalism and practicality while ensuring your resume remains visually appealing and easy to handle for hiring managers.

Alternative Uses for Cardstock

Business Cards

Cardstock is an excellent material choice for business cards. They are sturdy and give a professional appearance, making them suitable for networking and professional events. The thicker material conveys a sense of quality and durability, which can leave a lasting impression on potential clients or collaborators.

Business cards made of cardstock can be printed with information like name, job title, phone number, and email address. The thicker material allows for clear and crisp printing, ensuring your information is easily legible.


Another popular use for cardstock is designing invitations. This material provides a touch of elegance and sophistication to various types of invitations, such as weddings, birthdays, and corporate events. The heavier weight of the cardstock lends itself to sharp, high-quality printing that will make your invitations stand out and impress your guests.

When choosing cardstock for invitations, it’s essential to consider factors such as color and texture. Cardstock is available in various hues, finishes, and thicknesses that can help to create a unique and personalized touch. Experimenting with different designs, fonts, and layouts can lead to an invitation that is both eye-catching and representative of the event’s theme.

In conclusion, cardstock is a versatile material that serves interesting alternative uses beyond resume paper. Its durability and professional appearance make it ideal for creating business cards and invitations that leave a lasting impression and communicate a sense of quality.


In the realm of resumes, the right choice between resume paper and cardstock depends on the specific situation. When considering which option to choose, applicants must weigh the importance of appearance, durability, and the type of job they are applying for.

Resume paper, being thinner and lighter, is ideal for traditional corporate jobs and formal settings. It provides a professional, clean, and polished appearance. Cardstock, on the other hand, is thicker and more durable. Its sturdiness conveys a strong impression when applying for creative positions or those involving design.

When it comes to printing, resume paper is more cost-effective and efficient for bulk printing, while cardstock may require special printers and can prove more expensive. Additionally, lighter paper is less likely to cause jams and slowdowns during the printing process.

In summary, the choice between resume paper and cardstock hinges upon the job being sought and the impression one wants to deliver. Both options have their merits and should be considered on an individual basis to best match the needs of each job applicant.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal weight for resume paper?

The ideal weight for resume paper typically ranges between 20 and 32 pounds, with 24-pound paper being a common choice. Thicker paper often conveys a sense of professionalism and helps your resume stand out among other candidates.

Is cotton resume paper better than standard?

Cotton resume paper can be better than standard paper because it offers a more refined appearance and feel. Additionally, cotton paper is more durable and less likely to yellow over time. However, it may be more expensive than standard paper options.

Where can I purchase quality resume paper?

Quality resume paper can be purchased at office supply stores, stationery shops, or online retailers. Some popular brands that offer quality resume paper include Southworth, Neenah, and Strathmore.

Are there benefits to using cardstock for resumes?

While cardstock may offer a heavier weight and professional look, it is generally not recommended for resumes. Cardstock can be difficult to fold, mail, and may not be compatible with all printers. It is better to stick with standard resume paper options to ensure your document is easily read and processed.

What are the differences between parchment specialty paper and regular resume paper?

Parchment specialty paper has a unique texture or finish, often resembling aged or antique documents. While this style may be suitable for certain industries or creative positions, regular resume paper is often a safer choice. Regular resume paper will have a smoother surface and more consistent appearance, making it ideal for professional settings.

What is the standard paper size for resumes: A4 or letter?

The standard paper size for resumes can vary depending on where you are located. In the United States and Canada, letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) is the typical choice, while A4 (8.27 x 11.69 inches) is more common in Europe and other regions. Make sure to use the appropriate paper size for your location to ensure your resume is presented in the best possible manner.

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