Coordinated Business Systems Blog

10 Simple Steps to Stop Paper Jams

Copiers and printers jam. It's just a part of office life. How often they jam is something you can control.

Proactive maintenance and regular cleaning are two obvious steps to take to keep your copiers and printers functioning at peak capability. While some offices maintain and clean their machines, most ignore an obvious culprit in paper jams – the paper. Most people think paper is paper is paper. It's not.

Paper comes in different sizes, weights, coating, degrees of whiteness, and various other elements that reflect the complexity of a 2,000 year old technology.

Paying attention to how you handle the paper you feed into your copiers and printers is a cheap, easy, and effective way to minimize downtime from paper jams.

Here are 10 tips for handling paper that'll help prevent jams.

1. Use older paper first

If you are in a situation where you have multiple reams of paper open or multiple choices that suit your printing needs, be sure to use the oldest paper first.

2. Don't open a ream of paper unless you're going to use it

Although your copier might hold 2,000 sheets, unless you're doing a 2,000 page print run, or know that that much will get used in a short period of time, don't keep your drawers filled. Paper absorbs moisture from the air which may expand and makes jams more likely.

3. Be careful when handling the paper

Creases, wrinkles, or tears aren't going to go smoothly through the paper path in your copier or printer. If paper is damaged, don't use it. 

4. Fan paper before loading into the paper tray

Fanning the paper ensures the the edges aren't stuck together and adds some air between sheets which can help to prevent a double feed.

5. Stack paper appropriately 

If you take paper out of the box to stack onto a shelf, stack the older paper on top of the new paper and align the reams on top of each other. 

6. Place the paper right side up

A ream of paper will have an arrow on it which indicates the right direction to place it in the copier or printer. When you're loading paper in, be sure to pay attention to this. 

7. Choose high quality paper

Low quality paper is just that, low quality. The potential for jamming is higher with cheaper paper. 

8. Follow the guidelines in the paper tray

Keep the sheets aligned and don't overfill – the “fill line” is there for a reason.

9. Use the right weight

Don't mix different paper weights in the paper trays. Review your user manual to be sure that your settings are correct. Don't use paper heavier than your machine can handle – it will get stuck.

10. Don't open the paper tray while printing is in progress

If you're scanning multiple documents, here are a few paper-handling tips:

  • Remove paper clips and staples
  • Remove any Post-It notes
  • Tape torn edges

Paper does matter. Take a few steps to treat your paper well, and you'll save time trying to pull paper from your copier's innards.

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