Ok, so you’ve found your art print (or other fun printable) and expertly picked out your paper to print on. Now what?
You need to set up your printer for optimal print quality so that your print comes out looking glam! Printing obstacles like paper jams and print sizes are the worst. But have no fear, with a few tweaks to your printer settings you’ll be on your way to being an at home printer pro.
Today you’re going to kiss those pesky printing issues goodbye!
Ink jet vs Laser Printer
Currently I use an ink jet printer, but I have a laser printer on my wish list. Why? For starters, laser printers print way faster than ink jet printers (great for when you need to print multiple pages) and they are better suited for printing graphics. If you’re printing photos, an ink jet is the way to go. Toner for laser printers may be more costly, but you’ll replace it less frequently. Nothing is more annoying than when your ink gets low that quality starts to decrease and then printing stops all together because you’re low on ink. I speak from experience, when I printed our wedding save the dates I had to run out to Staples twice just to complete printing (and printing took for-ev-er).
But to each their own. Do some test printing on your current printer and if an ink jet printer is what you own (and like) no need to rush out and buy a whole new printer.
UPDATE (January 2016): I purchased a new ink jet printer and I am in love! It gives me control of how my printables will look when printed and I can count on it for top quality results every time.
Which type of paper should you use for you printable? The best answer is dependent on what you are printing.
Text weight paper – similar to regular printer paper and compatible in most printers.
Cover weight paper – aka cardstock. It’s a heavier paper and that can be used in many home printers, however, you may need to hand feed sheet by sheet due to the thickness. I recommend using card stock for art prints.
Specialty paper – stickers, tags, and labels. Several brands offer these paper options, but Avery is one of the most commonly found in stores.
This post talks all about choosing the right paper for your project.
Please know that there are always variations among printers based on type and usage, and I can not guarantee that all printers will accommodate your paper choice. I recommend test printing to ensure your printer can accommodate the paper weight and size before printing your final product.
Most printers are designed to accommodate an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper while some may be able to accommodate a sheet of paper up to 11” wide. In regards to pre-cut card sizes, most printers can print larger card sizes like A7 and A9.
Additionally, some printers can accommodate folded cards. For the best results, unfold the card and lay it flat in your printer before printing. Make sure your printer document size is set to the dimensions of the unfolded card size. I recommend printing folded cards one at a time to reduce the chance of a paper jam.
Some printers may have difficulty printing on smaller card sizes. In some cases the following trick may help:
- Attach the smaller sized card to an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper with a small piece of double stick tape, placing the card in the upper left corner of the page. Your printer is used to feeding the 8.5 x 11 size and should pull the sheet through along with the small card. Adjust your printer settings to the card size and test print to make sure that your text is laid out to print within the specified size area. Load the 8.5 x 11 sheet so the smaller card goes into the printer first. This method especially comes in handy when printing shape cards.
Setting Up Your Printer
In your printer settings you’ll want to set the page/document size to fit the paper size you are printing on. You can usually find Page Set Up under file on your menu bar. Adjust the page dimensions (width and height) to match your paper size, and make sure the orientation of your document (portrait or landscape) matches the direction in which you want to print.
All of my printables are downloaded as PDF’s which means you may need to tweak your printer settings manually to get the correct print size. Adobe reader will automatically shrink a page if it senses that it is too large for the page and vice versa when it senses that a page is too small.
To make sure you get a print true to size make sure that any of the following options are CHECKED:
- Print actual size
- Print at 100%
Make sure that the following is UNCHECKED:
- Fit to page
This will especially come in handy when printing a 5×7 print on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.
Your printer will automatically try to guess the type of paper you have chosen to print on, while it has good intentions most of the time it is wrong and you will need to make the necessary adjustments. To find Print Properties go to file on your menu bar, then print – you should see a properties section where you can change the paper type and quality settings. Try playing around with these settings (selecting a heavier paper type, adjusting the quality settings, etc) to achieve the best results.
Feeding The Printer
Depending on the thickness of your paper you may need to hand feed your printer the paper. Keep in mind that even if your printer has the capabilities to print on your paper thickness you may only be able to feed the printer in small batches of paper at a time. For example, when printing our wedding save the dates I was only able to keep 5 sheets of paper in the tray at a time or else the printer started to act wacky.
When you’re ready to print your art print remove all regular paper from the printer and put in your paper of choice. For top-feed printers you will typically position the paper all the way to the right edge, but this may vary by printer model. Adjust the printer guides if necessary, but leave a tiny bit of wiggle room between the paper and the guide (if it is too tight the printer will have a hard time grabbing the paper).
Printed color doesn’t match what is on screen
- Due to back lighting and brightness levels on computer and device screens, what one person may see on their screen can vary from what you see on your screen resulting in a discrepancy in color tone. Keep in mind that color will print slightly duller than it appears on-screen.
- For ink jet printers: check your ink levels and replace if necessary.
- Adjust the print quality in the print properties – I recommend using the highest quality setting (using a draft quality setting may result in faded and unclear text).
Printer won’t feed the printer
- Try feeding the paper one at a time instead of in a stack.
- Make sure the paper is positioned correctly in the printer.
- Try changing the paper quality in your print properties to a heavier weight.
The text is cut off in some areas
- Make sure your settings are set to the proper paper size.
- Adjust your margins to allow for a larger print area.
I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful and make printing easy.
If you have any other printable printing questions, please leave them in the comments below.
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