If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you already know that I give away lots and lots of free printables as well as sell them in my Etsy shop. When my parents were visiting us last month, I was showing them around my site and my shop, and they made me realize that there are tons of people out there who have no idea how to actually print their printables, and therefore may be missing out on tons of free goodies. I’ve also heard from some of you, that you have no problem printing your own files, but you have have run into obstacles like print quality, paper jams and sizing issues.
Today I’m here to solve some of those tricky printing problems and to point you to some great resources for printing outside the home. Let’s start with the basics of printing from home.
Printing from home
If you already have a printer available to you at home or at your office, you are in great shape. Having access to your own printer means you can print as much and as often as you’d like.
FAQ: Which is better, an ink jet or a laser jet printer?
For the types of printables I share, I believe that laser is the way to go. Ink jet printers are better suited for printing photos than graphics, and while their ink cartridges may be less expensive than laser printer toner, you also need to change them more often. You all know how much printing I do and I haven’t changed my printer toner in over 2 years. If you are a teacher, a party planner or a blogger who prints multiple copies of each printable, a laser printer is definitely a better option, as it prints at a much faster speed than ink jet. I use an HP Color Laser Printer and it works wonderfully.
FAQ: What is the best paper to use?
This really depends on what you are printing. Here’s what I suggest:
Card stock paper for: all types of cards (greeting cards, place cards, menu cards, recipe cards, playing cards), banners, buntings, calendars, coasters, signs, photo booth props, gift tags, and anything that is double sided
Plain computer paper for: art prints (once it’s framed, you can’t tell what it’s printed on), food and drink party flags, labels, stickers, worksheets, wrappers
Specialty paper for: stickers, labels, tags (Avery is my favorite – and no, they aren’t paying me to say that!)
FAQ: I took your advice and used card stock. Why is it getting stuck in my printer and why is it streaky?
Unfortunately, the printer has no idea what type of product you are printing on and it tries to guess (most of the time it’s wrong). It’s up to us to fine tune our printer settings so that the end result comes out at the best quality possible. Here’s where those settings have been hiding:
Every printer is going to show different settings under this drop down menu, so you may need to play around and try a couple different options to determine which works best. One more thing to note is that certain printers do not handle heavy paper well, and it may need to be fed through a bypass or manual tray. You can tell your printer to pull from this tray instead of the main tray by changing your printer settings.
FAQ: Why isn’t the PDF printing at the correct size?
This is another case of the printer trying to take matters into it’s own hands. If it senses that the artwork may be too big for the page, it may automatically try to shrink the page down. Alternatively if it sees that you are trying to print something small, your printer may try increase the size to have it take up as much space on the page as possible. To make sure that your printable prints true to size, make sure that any verbiage that says “print actual size” or “print at 100%” are checked. Make sure anything that says “fit to page” is UNchecked.
FAQ: Why doesn’t the color match what I see on screen?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for this one. Computer and device screens are backlit and paper is not, so everything you print is going to tend to be a little duller than how it appears on screen. Furthermore, everyone’s computer monitors, televisions and mobile devices display in varying degrees of brightness, so what I’m seeing on my end may look very different from what you are seeing on yours.
FAQ: How do I print double sided?
Occasionally, I’ll share printables that include an optional backer. Printing these are super easy! Simply print the front side, take the page, put it back into the printer (some printers require you to flip the page) and then print the back side. If you are printing double sided, you will most likely want to use card stock, so you won’t see the ink bleeding through the other side.
Printing outside the home
So maybe you don’t have a home printer, or it’s out of ink, or you haven’t touched it in five years and you’re not even sure that it still works. That’s totally fine! You can still take advantage of all my free printables, and the quality of your prints will be just as good, if not better. You’ve got two great options— printing locally or printing online.
Is extremely easy, and the best part is, you can be face to face with a real person who can help you navigate through all of your printing concerns. Simply pop your PDF download onto a thumb drive, and drive it over to your nearest print shop (see list below). Some local printers allow you to upload your file to their website, so that you can send it in ahead of time and then pick it up when you are ready.
FAQ: Where is the best place to print locally?
Most towns in the US have an office supply store like Staples, Office Max or FedEx Kinkos. All of these locations have print shops in them. You can also do some googling to see if your town has an independent print shop, which would be awesome for you to support.
FAQ: What do I do if the printer doesn’t have the right sized paper for my printable?
All of the printables I share are set up on 8.5 x 11 paper, and every printer in the US, will have that option. Once the page is printed, you will need to trim out the item/items yourself, or ask the local printer to trim it for you.
If you’ve got too much going on to squeeze in a trip to your local print shop, there are tons of printing services available to you online. You will end up with a beautifully printed piece, without ever having to leave the house.
FAQ: Where is the best place to print online?
Here is a list of my favorite online printing vendors:
These printers are especially awesome because you can print in “short runs” — meaning you don’t need to order 250 copies— you only need to pay for the quantity that you need.
FAQ: Which sized paper do I choose when printing online?
As I mentioned, all of the printables I share are set up on 8.5 x 11 paper, so you will need to select this size and trim out the item/items yourself once they arrive to you.
I hope you’ve found these tips to be helpful. If you have other printable printing questions that I haven’t addressed, please leave them in the comments section. Chances are, if you have run into a problem, somebody else has too!
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you’ll help support Elegance & Enchantment, and you’ll receive some amazing stuff, too. Whohoo!
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