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Can you print color on cardstock?

Printing color on cardstock can add a professional, polished look to documents and projects. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when printing on cardstock to ensure the best print quality. In this article, we’ll look at the factors that affect printing color on cardstock and best practices to follow.

What is Cardstock?

Cardstock refers to heavyweight paper or cardboard with thickness ranging from 50 lb to 100 lb. It is thicker and more durable than regular copy paper, which usually ranges from 20 lb to 24 lb.

Here are the key characteristics of cardstock:

  • Thickness – 50 lb to 100 lb
  • Weight – 176-350 gsm
  • Surface – Smooth, linen, felt, laid
  • Common uses – Business cards, postcards, brochures, invitations, scrapbooking

The extra thickness gives cardstock a nice feel and makes it ideal for formal documents and projects. The smooth, stiff surface also allows for crisp printing with minimal distortion.

Can You Print Color on Cardstock?

Yes, you can definitely print color on cardstock. Modern inkjet and laser printers are capable of handling cardstock and printing professional color projects.

However, there are some factors to consider:

  • Printer capabilities – Check your printer’s specs to ensure it can accommodate the thickness and paper weight.
  • Ink/toner compatibility – Use ink and toner formulated for cardstock to get optimal results.
  • Print settings – Adjust settings like paper type, print quality, and drying time when printing on cardstock.

As long as your printer and supplies can handle it, printing vibrant color on cardstock is achievable. The next sections go into detail on how to print successfully.

Choosing the Right Cardstock

To achieve the best quality color printing on cardstock, you need paper that’s optimized for the task. Here’s what to look for when selecting cardstock:


Choose a weight your printer can accommodate, typically between 50-100 lb or 176-350 gsm. Heavier cardstock may jam.


Coated cardstock has a smooth finish that allows for sharp print quality. Uncoated works too but may absorb more ink.

Surface Texture

The smoother the surface, the better detail you’ll achieve. Avoid heavily textured cardstock.

Bright White Shade

Opt for a true white cardstock vs. cream or grey hues for vibrant color reproduction.

Ink/Laser Compatibility

Use cardstock made for either inkjet or laser printing depending on your printer.

Cardstock Feature Ideal for Color Printing
Thickness 50-100 lb / 176-350 gsm
Coating Smooth coated
Surface Texture Smooth
Color Bright white
Compatibility Inkjet or laser

Follow these cardstock guidelines for flawless color printing.

Print Settings for Cardstock

To print successfully on cardstock, you need to adjust your printer settings and preferences accordingly:

Set Paper Type to Cardstock

Most printers have a cardstock or heavy paper setting. Choose this instead of plain paper.

Use Best Print Quality

Choose the highest print quality setting available for sharp detail and vivid color. Avoid fast/draft modes.

Enable Heavier Paper Setting

Look for a paper weight or thickness adjustment that matches the lbs/gsm of your cardstock.

Adjust Printer Margin

A narrower margin prevents cardstock from bending or jamming in the printer.

Enable Color Correction

Color correction and ColorSmart settings optimize color matching and accuracy.

Allow Extra Drying Time

Ink needs a few extra seconds to dry on thick cardstock before stacking prints.

Tweaking these printer parameters ensures cardstock prints correctly without issues. Refer to your printer’s user guide for model-specific settings.

Ink and Toner for Cardstock

The type of ink or toner used when printing on cardstock also impacts the color quality. For best results:

Use Original Ink/Toner

Go with OEM cartridges designed specifically for your printer model. Third party supplies may not adhere or fuse as well on cardstock.

Choose Pigment Ink

Pigment ink binds better and lasts longer on coated cardstock compared to dye ink. It resists fading over time.

Consider Heavy Duty Cartridges

Some brands offer high yield cartridges with more pigment for successful cardstock printing.

Match Color Profiles

Using the same ink/toner brand as the paper ensures the color profiles are optimized together.

The combination of quality cardstock plus matched ink or toner will enable beautiful, accurate color reproduction. Test print on a sample first before printing a large project.

Printer Maintenance for Cardstock

Proper printer maintenance prevents jams and issues when printing on heavy cardstock:

Check Paper Guides

Confirm the guides aren’t too snug against the cardstock to avoid feeding problems.

Clean the Rollers

Wipe down the feed and discharge rollers to prevent slips and misfeeds of thick paper.

Test Feed Single Sheets

Verify the printer grabs and loads individual cardstock sheets correctly.

Clear Paper Dust

Excess paper dust on the printer’s rollers can impact grip on slick cardstock.

Print Alignment Test

Confirm the printer precisely places ink or toner on the cardstock surface.

Take the time to tune-up your printer, and it will have no issues handling cardstock printing. Replace worn rollers and belts as needed.

Troubleshooting Color Printing on Cardstock

Sometimes print jobs on cardstock don’t go as smoothly as hoped. Here are some common issues and fixes:

Problem Potential Cause Solution
Jammed paper Too heavy cardstock, snug guides Use recommended weight, loosen guides
Smearing Ink/Toner Insufficient drying time Increase drying time, use fixative
Light print Printer needs alignment Run alignment procedure
Misaligned printout Cardstock slippage Clean rollers, test feed

Take a systematic approach to diagnose and resolve any cardstock printing problems. A little trial and error can go a long way.

Achieving Quality Color Prints on Cardstock

Printing in color on cardstock allows you to produce stunning business cards, flyers, invitations, and more. Here are some final tips for success:

– Choose the right heavyweight coated cardstock for your printer
– Adjust print driver settings appropriately for cardstock
– Use high quality pigment ink/toner matched to the paper
– Maintain the printer to prevent jams and feed issues
– Allow proper drying time for ink on the thick paper
– Address any print quality problems systematically

With careful prep work and the right technique, your printer can handle color cardstock printing easily. The finished projects will look fantastic with deep vibrant hues and crisp detail on the thick premium paper stock. Dazzle your customers and contacts with professional color prints on cardstock!


Printing in color on cardstock can take your business collateral, invitations, and photos to the next level. As long as you select appropriate cardstock, optimize your print settings, use matched ink/toner, and maintain your printer, achieving fantastic results is straightforward. Just keep in mind cardstock’s thickness and texture requirements compared to normal copy paper. With a quality printer, ink, and cardstock combination, you can produce eye-catching color prints on cardstock for any project or occasion. Have fun printing on cardstock and taking your documents and occasions to a more impressive level.