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How To Prevent Paper Jams in Your Office Printer or Copier

printer paper jam

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“Why do these paper jams keep occurring?!” 

The only thing more frustrating in an office setting than a paper jam is a persistent paper jam. One would think that since we have the technology to launch a Tesla Roadster into outer space, surely we can develop a printer that doesn’t jam! Right?

Yes, though we can engineer the most technologically advanced printers in the world, as long as we’re printing on dead trees, paper’s temperamental nature will result in the inevitable jam. 

Not all hope is lost, though. There are simple ways to prevent paper jams in your office printers. 

Store Your Paper Properly

Your printer is a very robust and sophisticated piece of meticulously engineered machinery. However, paper is finicky sheets of reshaped wood that can literally become warped by a mild gust of wind or slight change in humidity. How you store your paper can be the difference between paper jams once in a blue moon or every day. 

"How can you help keep paper in tip-top shape?"

  • Keep paper in its packaging until you need it. 
  • Once out of the package, keep your paper in an air-tight storage container.
  • Have a designated paper storage cabinet away from vents, doors, and windows. 

​Related: How to Store Your Printer or Copier Paper in Your Office

Don’t Overload Your Printer

Running out of paper mid-job is likely the third most annoying office experience. For this reason, many of us like to load the printer tray as fully as possible. Not only does this eliminate the frequent need to refill the paper or copier, but it also seems like a pretty good place to store paper, right? 

Wrong. Not only can stuffed paper trays cause the paper to feed improperly, but it also leaves paper exposed to harsh conditions. Printers can get hot, which can deform the shape of the paper. Paper storage trays on larger printer units are also lower to the ground—not the ideal height for paper storage. 

Most printers have maximum printer markings on the side of the paper tray or insertable paper cassettes. These may look like downward pointing arrows or maximum fill level lines. Never load paper trays, cassettes, or drawers beyond these specified levels. 

Make Sure Paper is Loaded Straight

Few of us pay much mind to how to load paper into a printer’s paper tray. 

“If it fits, that’s how it goes—right?” Not necessarily. In many printers, there is a degree of allowance to make paper loading easier. However, after the paper is loaded, make sure that it is following any listed guides and is parallel with the tray. Also, look to see that the printer is currently adjusted to take the paper size you’re loading. 

Don’t Load Bent Paper

Your printer was designed to feed flat, straight paper for the highest quality possible. If the paper in your printer does not lay flat or it has bent corners, this can significantly increase the likelihood of a paper jam. After you have loaded the paper into the tray, drawer, or cassette, make sure that it is laying perfectly flat (not bowing upward or downward) and that the corners are not bent.

You can prevent paper bowing and bent corners by practicing proper paper storage as well as carefully handling it so as not to damage it.

Share These Tips With Your Team!

You’re now educated in the ways of proper paper storage and loading to reduce the likelihood of paper jams. Terrific! However, unless you’re the only one who ever loads paper into your office’s printer, your colleagues may still thwart your efforts to reduce paper jams. Share this piece with them so they can be enlightened stewards of the printer just like you.  

If you follow these tips and the printer manufacturer’s instructions for proper paper loading and storage, you can significantly reduce the frequency of paper-jam-induced headaches in the future. 

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