Copiers and printers jam.
That's a fact of office life.
How often they'll jam is something you can control though.
Most offices ignore an obvious culprit in paper jams – the paper. Most people think paper is paper is paper.
Paper comes in different sizes, every knows that. It also has different 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 13 tips for handling paper that'll help prevent jams.
1. Use older paper first.
2. Don't open a ream of paper unless you're going to use it.
While your copier might hold 2,000 sheets, unless you're doing a 2,000 page print run, don't keep your drawers filled. Paper absorbs moisture from the air. Moisture expands paper and makes jams more likely. Open paper and use immediately. Store your paper in a cool, dry place.
3. Be careful.
Creases, wrinkles, or tears aren't going to go smoothly through the paper path in your copier or printer. If paper is curled, 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. Stacking paper.
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 – that's the right direction, place it in the copier or printer accordingly.
7. Use good quality paper.
Lower quality paper is . . . lower quality. The potential for jamming is higher with cheaper paper.
8. Use the guidelines in the paper tray.
Keep the sheets aligned and don't overfill – the “fill line” is there for a reason.
9. Weight matters.
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.
For a fascinating read on the engineering complexity of moving paper through a copier or printer, read the New Yorker story, Why Paper Jams Persist.