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How to prevent paper jams when printing or copying

Annoyed woman with crumpled paper

Paper jams feature highly in the list of things that annoy us most about printers and photocopiers, particularly if they keep happening! If paper keeps getting stuck in your printer or photocopier, read on for some useful tips on how to prevent paper jams – it might be something really simple that you’re just not aware of.

Many paper jams arise because of paper quality or the way the paper has been loaded into the paper tray.

Paper quality

Before it even gets into the machine it’s important to consider where your paper stock is kept. If your stores are kept in an environment that is unheated, damp can sometimes be a problem. Not enough of an issue that you would notice it, but an issue that could potentially see your paper stocks absorbing small amounts of moisture from the air which will mean that there may be a tendency for sheets to stick together instead of separating easily to be drawn into your printer or photocopier. ​Keeping your paper in a dry environment at normal room temperature should prevent paper jams due to paper quality.

Paper loading

If your paper is in tip top condition, there are a number of things to look out for when you load the paper in to the paper tray of your printer or photocopier that will prevent paper jams.

Firstly, fan your ream of paper in both directions before putting it into the cassette. This helps to loosen the stock after it’s been wrapped up tightly and separates the sheets. Here’s a quick video to show you how:

When you’ve done that, knock the ream on a flat surface on the short edge and the long edge to realign the sheets together before putting it into the paper tray.

​Once the paper is in the paper tray there are two things to look out for. Make sure that there aren’t any corners that have been caught and folded over as you put the ream into the paper tray.

Loading paper into photocopier with corner turned down

Modern machines are very sensitive and even a couple of dog-eared corners on the bottom sheets will affect the height and levels of the top sheets and cause you problems. We liken this to the Princess and the Pea!

Then make sure the paper guides are snug against the paper to prevent the paper from getting even slightly out of position before being drawn into the printer.

Paper guides for paper in a photocopier

Slightly skewed paper won’t feed evenly through the rollers and is likely to get caught up on the edges, causing a paper jam.

​Obviously, in a busy office environment it might not have been you that loaded the paper. (No need to point fingers, just share this blog with everyone!)

If you experience a paper jam and you manage to clear it, it’s worth reloading the paper paying attention to the three things above which will hopefully prevent it happening again... and you can feel good about the fact that you have potentially done your bit for office wellbeing by preventing paper jams for a while and saving other colleagues from having a meltdown!

What to do when you get a paper jam when printing or copying

If you are unlucky enough to experience a paper jam there is one essential thing to do FIRST, before you pull out the paper trays in frustration. ​Open the side door to see if the paper has got stuck in the feeder rollers. If it has, remove it from here first.

Open side door of photocopier showing paper jam

If you go for the paper trays first, if the jam is on the feeder rollers you risk tearing the stuck paper as you pull out the paper tray which makes the issue harder to fix. It’s much easier just to take it out from the side in one piece.

Persistent paper jam notifications

If you get a “paper jam” notification on the control panel of your printer which persists after you have removed paper or checked all the obvious places, it’s worth rebooting your machine to see if this clears the error. Don’t forget, just like computers (because that’s really what photocopier processors are) they need to be powered down properly, not just switched on and off at the power socket. If the paper jam error still hasn’t cleared you’ll need engineer assistance. Our engineers are often able to talk you through what to do over the phone to get you back up and running as fast as possible, but if not they will be on-site promptly. ​So now you know how to prevent paper jams when printing or copying – if you know someone else who would benefit from this knowledge (that colleague who NEVER loads paper properly perhaps?!) do share this post with them.

If you need any further advice don't hesitate to get in touch. You can give us a call on Worcester 01905 721400 or Gloucester 01452 699400, use the webchat at or email


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