Ok stupid question: Which side of the photo paper to print on?


Mar 28, 2012
Ok, I know this sounds stupid....but I"m printing photos first time. This is on canon pixma pro-100

Tried my first 2 prints.

Using the canon 8.5x11 Photo Paper Pro Luster that came with it as samples to try.

First images, very mottled looking.

I'm trying to trouble shoot, and first thing that comes to mind, how is best way to determine which side of the paper to print on?

I kinda assumed it was the side facing the front of the packaging....

But holding it on its own, it seems that side facing the front is slightly slicker in feeling than the part facing the back of the package.

Am I getting it right by printing on the 'slicker' side?

Thanks in advance for what I know is an EXTREME noob question.


Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
The side to print on is usually down for the Epson paper I use, but I hold the paper at a angle to let light reflect off the side with the finish coat on it when its not obvious.

The other thing to check is your settings, the printing app and printer profile settings must match. It you let the printer select colors, the printing software must be set the same way. If you don't do that, a print will look bad. Try both sides, and make sure that the settings for color profile match.



Sep 14, 2012
Depends on the paper, and sometimes it's not easy. Yes, usually the printing surface is up in the box, but I never rely on it (since I can put them in the box the wrong way).

For glossy papers, it's obviously the glossy side - unless it's a paper for double-sided prints, only one side is coated.

For lustre/semi-gloss papers, which usually have some kind of texture, it's the textured one. Canon Photo Lustre Pro print side will show a "pebbled" surface when lighted at a given angle.

Matte papers and especially some fine arts ones may be more difficult. Look for the whiter side (if there is one), and usually smoother one (if the paper is not heavily textured). The ink-retaining coating usually makes the print surface "chalkier".

An advice I often see is "If you still can't tell you can wet a fingertip and touch a corner of the paper. Print side will be tacky ".

The leaflet that usually comes in the box may have some suggestions.

And about noob questions, the first time I printed on a photo printer, I printed on the cardboard used to protect the paper surface, and asked myself why it looked so bad.... LOL!
Last edited:


Jun 13, 2011
Don't know the Pixma pro-100, but with my Canon iP7250 you have to load the paper into the printer with the print side facing down. Maybe that's your problem?


Sep 14, 2012
Don't know the Pixma pro-100, but with my Canon iP7250 you have to load the paper into the printer with the print side facing down. Maybe that's your problem?
No, the Pixma Pro has an "L" shaped or straight path with printing side up.

Usually dedicated (not used for documents printing) photo printers avoid "C" or "S" shaped feeding paths, even it it means the printer may be bigger and need more space behind, the paper usually flows straight with minimal bending and with the printing side up, to avoid scratches or cracks on the printing surface, and they can also print on thick paper which would be an issue to bend too much. That also mean they don't have duplex.

They usually have also simpler trays for a few sheets only, as sheets rubbing against each other can damage the printing surface - and photo paper can be expensive - rolls may be preferred because such issue is minimized (albeit you may need to "flatten" the paper later...).
  • Like
Reactions: bainsybike


Dec 20, 2012
Southeastern USA
I use so many types of paper that I make notes on the boxes to remind me of "media-type" settings.

Epson Signature Worthy papers come in a plastic sleeve labeled "This Side Up." I try to never flip over the paper in the box once I remove the sleeve (which I always do to prevent crimping corners as I remove a sheet and place the rest back in the box). I think Moab is also labeled, and some of their matte papers are printable on both sides. Canson papers are also labeled to show the print side.

If I do get mixed up, I use a fingernail to test for texture.

I printed wrong side up a few times, but have been lucky for a few years now.

One thing that causes trouble with color and contrast, but not necessarily leading to mottling, is accidentally allowing both the editing program and the printer drivers to handle color profiles, resulting in conflicts and/or doubling of ink flows (kind of like a multiply-blend mode effect). On Epson printers, this is pretty easy to avoid once a workflow is established, but it can happen.

Having the wrong media-type chosen might cause some mottling, especially if it's way off, like matte for glossy paper.
Last edited:


Mar 28, 2012
Hi all,

Thank you SO much for the advice!!

I did the wet finger and see which side was "tacky" and that indeed showed one side MUCH more tacky than the other....I flipped and tried the other side and VOILA!! It produced a wonderful looking picture of our of our family's pups.

I guess 3rd time IS the charm, haha.

Yep, I had gone through and to the best of my ability, I had doubled checked to make sure either the printer was doing color management, or the application was doing it (On1 RAW).

I did the soft proofing, and make a 2nd copy to adjust to get the soft proof to look more like what the ink and paper copy should look like and it appears it did a good job....of course, more experimenting to come.

Anyway, I've ordered a bunch of samples from from Red River, MOAB, Canon and I think Canson....I've not broken into them, but with each giving only 1-2 sheets of paper of each type, I hope to figure out which side is up as quickly as possible and not waste any.

Thank you all!!

  • Like
Reactions: YuengLinger

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
Fortunately for me, I have never done anything so foolish...… except for the times I printed on the side of the paper that had the pale blue Kodak watermark :)

There is a saying: If you haven't done something truly stupid, persevere!
  • Like
Reactions: ejenner


Traveling the world one step at a time.
Aug 26, 2014
The "wet finger on the corner" is my tried and true test for the non obvious papers. I like the Moab paper that are coated on both sides so it doesn't matter, but like YL I keep my Epson Signature worthy papers in the plastic sleeve the same way they came with the notation Print Side Up just to avoid the mix up as much as possible. It's the matte and watercolor where there's the problem.