How to Print on Transfer Paper – A Step-by-Step Guide

Transfer papers are an essential element of t-shirt production, particularly when you are applying heat press. T-shirts are not the only product that transfer paper may be used for.

It can also replicate pictures onto various materials, including aprons, cotton purses, pillowcases, placemats, and solid materials, including wood. Inkjet printers produce a pulsing and bright look after printed t-shirts, so transfer papers are generally highly suitable.

Regardless of the purpose of using transfer paper, one needs to learn to use it properly to create a tidy and professional-looking work. Anyone can master the use of transfer paper within minutes even though they have never done this previously.

We tried to put up a step-by-step tutorial to make the entire procedure easier. We hope that having this insight will make your printing business a bit relaxing.

Different Types of Transfer Papers

You first need to understand the types and applications of transfer paper and then proceed with printing. Often users think that the pigment required to print the images is the thing that does the transfers work. However, this is not the case. In fact, the kind of transfer paper is used determines the outcome.

Transfer papers are divided into two categories:

Light Transfer Paper

Light papers are often light-toned, featuring shades of baby pink, white, and similar pale hues. They are designed to attach designs on garments that are close in tone. Light transfer paper inks are generally transparent and just show up on light-toned fabrics.

Dark Transfer Paper

Dark papers are the total mirror image of the light ones. These are dark and intended to transfer pictures, lettering, and other symbols to darker-toned clothing.

The ink is put onto a white backdrop when a dark transfer paper is being used to prevent the coloring of the cloths from peeking through.

Guide to Printing on Transfer Paper

Step 1 – Select Right Transfer Paper and Material

The type of material you use to print on has an impact on the final output. In general, we do not use a heat press for every fabric. Heat press, as the term implies, applies heat. As a result, a specific material that might not be heat-compatible should be avoided whenever dealing with this. The majority of synthetic materials fall under this category. Possible solutions include cotton, polyester, and spandex.

The mode you choose is determined by the various forms of transfer paper plus the coloring of the material, which we have discussed previously. Also, there are multiple modes whose application is determined by the variety of printers and the chosen printing process.

Such examples are inkjet transfer paper, which can exclusively be applied with inkjet printers and inks; laser transfer papers, which have to be handled using laser printers; last comes, heat transfer vinyl or heat transfer paper, which is readymade.

Step 2 – Getting the Illustration Ready

If the illustration includes digits or words, begin by mirroring or inverting it. Just print the graphic design in mirror mode after reversing it. The picture will be put on the material face down, and after heat is transferred, it will show up correctly.

If you choose dark paper, make sure the picture is facing upwards on the material before transferring. There is no need to flip the illustration in this technique. The reverse procedure is straightforward and may be done simply from the printer settings option or with the help of any photo editing software, e.g., adobe illustrator.

Step 3 – Let’s Print on Transfer Paper

You need to be very particular that the illustration is fully prepared for printing also that it will look exactly how you wish it on the material. Therefore, before actually printing on the transfer paper, ensure that you print a preview of the illustration on regular paper.

This lets you check whether the whole graphic is being printed or a particular portion will be taken out by the printer. It further allows you to test if the graphic looks exactly on paper as it appears on the computer screen.

Once you are happy with the illustration, print it on the proper area of the transfer. This area is generally labeled, but if there are no markings available, be assured you are printing on the coated side. After correctly printing the illustration, use a heat press machine to attach it to the material.

Step 4 – Testing Transfer Paper

After you have successfully printed the proper illustration on the transfer paper, now you need to examine how it looks on the shirt or your preferred clothing. We recommend keeping several transfer papers handy. Besides that, for the fabric testing, utilize old clothes and materials. You check the print to assess how it might appear on a garment.

You test print the color, size ratio, and other features until you are delighted. Next, depending on the outcomes of the trials, you add any required alterations. You might also ask for feedback from others so to produce an excellent outcome.

Important Note: Know Your Printers

Heat transfer paper is engineered to operate either with an inkjet or laser printer. Inkjet transfer paper is required if you own an inkjet printer and laser transfer paper is mandatory if you got a laser printer. If you are unsure of what you have, there are numerous techniques for determining the type of printer you possess.

The model number of most printers is on the tag attached to the printer’s body. Many printers already have the words “inkjet” or “laser” in their names. Check the printer’s body for the model identification; if it doesn’t mention “inkjet” or “laser,” a simple Google search will reveal what you are dealing with.


Mastering the art of printing on transfer paper might provide you with a plethora of options. It is worthwhile investing the effort and time to develop this expertise. Printing on t-shirt transfer paper will allow you to personalize the illustrations on your t-shirts or any other garments while simplifying the procedure. To keep this step-by-step guide adaptable for newbies, we attempted to make it short and straightforward while avoiding technical terminology. We truly wish you found it helpful and informative.