Home-Based Two-Sided Printing

It is always the case. When someone hands me a packet of information, whether at work, school, or even just randomly on the street, the paper is never on both sides. The most unfortunate aspect of it is that the majority of the information is destined to be thrown away (or recycled, if you have a paper recycling system). How much paper could be saved if all of this were printed on two sides of the paper instead of just one? The fact that people still don't use the double-sided print settings despite the fact that most businesses and schools have large industrial printer/copiers that are capable of doing the majority of the laborious work for you is an even more appalling reality. Even though I can't show you how to print on every single brand of printer, I can show you how to print on both sides of a page with ease on the top load and front load printers that are the most common types found in homes. It will typically only take you a minute to complete (or a lot less once you get the hang of it), but it will immediately cut down on the amount of paper you use. What percentage of paper can you avoid wasting? Everything hangs on the content that you normally print. This is something that I do on almost everything.

Before you point out that some programs, like Microsoft Word, have an option for "Manual Duplex" printing that can assist with this process, I should tell you that this is not always available. Even if you decide that using that function is the path you want to take, it is still helpful to know how to reload your paper, which is why I have outlined the first steps here.

If you are reading this guide, you most likely already have everything you will need, but just in case you were wondering, the following is a list of the requirements for this Instructable:

A Printing Source - I say "Source" rather than computer because there are so many different devices, such as tablets and smart phones, that can be used with a computer (all of which are technically computers anyway, but I try to avoid confusion) A Printing Source You also need to be able to change the settings on your printer on the device you're using. Any user should normally be able to accomplish this.

Printing device - There are primarily two kinds of printers that can be found in homes:

  1. This type of printer loads paper from a tray located at the top of the machine, hence the name "top loading." After that, the printed paper emerges from the front.
  2. This type of printer loads paper from the front, and the paper tray is located on the front of the machine, typically underneath the area where the printed paper exits the machine.  
The first few steps of this tutorial will teach you how to operate your specific printer, and the last few steps will demonstrate how to print on both sides of a sheet of paper.

The very first thing that you need to comprehend is how the printer moves the paper through the rollers. When using a top-loading printer, the paper travels through the device in something resembling a straight line most of the time. This indicates that the same side of the paper will be facing you when it comes back out of the machine as it did when it went in. During the printing process, a front-loading printer causes the paper to alternate its path and turn over. This indicates that the side of the paper that is facing you when it is inserted into the printer will be facing down when it is removed from the printer.

Take a single piece of paper, preferably scrap paper, and use a pen to make a mark on one side of the paper. This will serve as your test. This can be as straightforward as placing an X in the top right corner. The following step involves printing a test sheet, which will reveal how the paper is fed through the printer.

The next step is to determine how the paper is oriented when it is printed. To do this, place the piece of paper from Step 2 (which has an X in the upper right corner) into the printer, and then print the document that is attached. This will provide us with information regarding the orientation of the printed paper.
  • In order to load the paper into the tray of a top-loading printer, you must first flip the page over so that the X is still facing you but is now located in the bottom left corner of the page.
  • In order to load paper into a front-loading printer, you must first flip the sheet of paper over so that the X appears on the side that is facing away from you, but it is still at the top of the page (as it is being inserted into the tray).
If you are unable to open a Word document or simply do not wish to do so, you should open any kind of editing program (image or text), and then draw or write something at the top of the page before printing it.

In most cases, the top of the paper is the one that is removed first and is placed face up. This indicates that if you are standing in front of the printer and looking down at the tray where the paper comes out, you should be able to see your printed page; however, it will be in the incorrect orientation. It is of no consequence if your printer is different from mine. Simply make sure you pay attention to the way the page is printed. Also make a note of the location of the X that has been marked on the printed paper. If you loaded it according to the recommendations for your printer, it should appear in the top right corner of the printed text on the majority of them. Again, you should just make a mental note of it if it comes out in a different way. By contrasting the position of the X when the paper entered the printer with its position when it exited, we can determine how the paper is fed through the printers. When we combine these details with how a page is oriented by the printer, we will be able to determine how to print on both sides of the page.

  • Document Titled "Test Page - Top of Front."

Print out the second document that is attached here on our test paper so that you can check that you understand the page orientation. (Once again, you can create your own using any text or image editor; just make sure that it looks different from the first thing we printed so that you can differentiate between the two.) ) Inserting the paper in this manner should be done in the same manner as in step 3, except the paper should be turned over. The side that was facing you is now turned away, but the top is still the top, and the bottom is still the bottom. I hope that makes some sort of sense.

When the page is printed, you should have a sheet that is printed on both sides. If one of the sides is the wrong way up, check what you did against the instructions and the diagrams, make a note of the text that was printed, and try printing it again using the same page (just try to reprint the back side). Before placing the paper in the tray, you will almost certainly need to flip it through 180 degrees.

  • Document Titled "Test Page - Top of Back."

Now that you know how to print two different things on the same page (hopefully they are both right side up), you can apply this method to a real document that consists of two pages. The document that you have attached is simply a combination of the two that came before it.   Before I begin, I feel the need to make it clear that each and every computer, tablet, operating system, and piece of software is entirely unique and will not appear exactly the same as my illustration; however, the same principles ought to work for any circumstance. Launch the attached document and print it out using the method of your choosing by navigating to the "File" menu and selecting "Print." The thing that you should stress the most about this situation is that whatever it is that you click on will bring up a print dialogue box rather than simply printing the pages automatically. I'm going to assume that you normally close this print dialogue box by clicking "OK," but it will be beneficial for you to have experienced it in the past.

In the box, there ought to be a few different choices. The "Page Range" options, shown on the far left and in the center of the preceding illustration, are the ones that are relevant to our work. The "All" option is the default, but if we want, we can choose a specific page. Before clicking OK, select the "Pages:" menu option and enter "1" into the resulting text box.

  • Page to Test Printing on Both Sides.doc

After the page has been printed, repeat the process described in steps 1 through 4 to determine how to reload the paper into the paper tray (with the front of the paper facing you, the back of the paper facing you, etc.). Again, navigate to the File menu and select Print. Within the Page Range submenu, check the "Pages:" option. Now, inside the box, type the number "2," and then click OK. After the sheet that you inserted has been processed by the printer, page 2 of the document should print out on the reverse side of page 1 of the document. If one of the sides is the wrong way up, you should try again, but you should make sure to rotate the paper before you put it back into the paper tray. That's it You have produced a document that is printed on both sides successfully. If you keep this up, doing what needs to be done in the future won't take you any time at all.

This method works well enough for a document that is only two pages long, but what about a thesis paper that is seventy pages long or a large packet of information for a business meeting? Printing each page individually would take an interminable amount of time. In this instance, we will proceed through the same print dialogue box that was utilized in steps 5 and 6, but this time we will ensure that the "All" Page Range Option is selected before moving on to the "Print:" options. The default selection is "All pages in range" from this point forward. This is going to be changed to "Odd Pages" soon. " This will print out pages 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, etc of your entire document

But before you throw them away, make sure you've paid attention to the order in which they were printed. While some printers will begin printing on page 1 and proceed to the last page in the document, others will begin printing on the last page in the document and work their way backwards to page 1. Although it is possible to alter this setting in many cases, it is much simpler to simply pay attention to how the printer is functioning and then proceed from there.

This is the most important stage. It is imperative that you make a mental note of the sequence in which the pages were initially printed. When you reload the paper into the tray, make sure that the page that was printed first is on top of the stack. For example, if page 1 was printed out first, then that page should be on top. If page 1 was the last page to be printed, then that page should be placed at the very bottom of the stack. It is possible that the stack needs to have its order changed before it can be reloaded. Aside from the fact that this must be taken into account, the entire stack will have to be reloaded back into the paper tray after being flipped over (not rotated, just flipped). The next step is to return to the print dialogue box, select the "Even Pages" option, and then click the "OK" button.

If this is your first time printing a large document, I recommend that you start by printing only two or three sheets that are double-sided so that you can get a feel for the proper sequence of the pages and how they should be oriented. As soon as you have this under your belt, you will easily be able to apply this method to all of your printing requirements in the future. When making multiple copies, you can also use this method; however, you will need to keep the aforementioned concerns regarding ordering and orientation in mind.

After you have gotten the hang of printing on both sides of a page using the page range options, the only obstacle left for you to conquer is printing on both sides of a copy. This appears to be a lot more difficult than it actually is. It is true that you could simply repeat the steps that came before in order to generate the third copy of your thesis that you require; however, when you have significantly less than an hour until you are required to begin presenting said thesis, time is of the utmost importance. Believe me, I went through this while I was in graduate school.

When you come back for one last look at our print dialog box, you should take note of the "Copies" section; the location of this section varies depending on the program. At this time, there are only two things that need to be decided upon:

  1. Choose this option from the "Number of Copies:" drop-down menu to indicate the quantity of copies you wish to have printed.
  2. Should the "Collate" button on the printer be used?
By selecting the "Collate" option, you can make sure that the printer prints the entire document at once (or at least all of the pages that you have selected in steps 7 and 8). In the event that this setting is not changed, the printer will first produce all of the copies of page 1, then all of the copies of the following page, and so on. Take note that it could print these pages in the opposite order, beginning with the last page and going all the way back to the first. It does not matter which way you do it as long as you are aware of how to re-feed the pages that have been printed into the tray in order to print on the opposite side of the page.

You need to make sure that you print the same number of copies of odd and even pages otherwise you will have a huge mess on your hands. Changing the number of copies is the only thing that needs to be done as you perform the two steps that came before it. If your printer does something strange with the ordering or orientation of the pages, it may be easier to not collate the pages but to manually put them in the correct order once you have finished printing.

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