GEEK: Make friends with your printer painlessly

Q: I always enjoy your articles. Thanks for your passion. My question concerns booklet duplex printing to my WiFi HP OfficeJet Pro 8710. I generate a booklet document from Office (Word) 365 on my Dell Desktop-89C8GVE with Win10 Home, but when I print to my printer – both sides, fold on short side, the inside pages are upside down. The same problem if I convert to PDF. However, if I email to my HP laptop (doc or PDF), I can print to the same printer from the laptop without problems – the inside pages are right side up. Per Dell Desktop task manager, my hp 8710 PCL-3 is version Any ideas to fix this?

– John L.

Niceville, Florida

A: For those of my readers who don’t know the term, “duplex printing” simply means two-sided printing – specifically, the printer having the ability to print on both sides of the paper without the user having to remove it, turn it over and re-insert it into the printer. I can remember a time when this very desirable feature was only found in higher-end laser printers, but these days, it can be found in many ink-jets as well, including some of the more modestly priced ones.

As I understand your problem, John, it’s happening because you are telling it to flip on the short side. This configuration is intended for “flip-books”. Imagine if your pages were punched at the top, and put on one of those clip-boards with two metal loops at the top. When you flip a page up to view the back, it’s upside down, so that’s how the printer prints it.

So, change your setting to flip on the long side instead. That’s how it prints if it goes in a 3-ring binder, with both sides of each page printed in the same orientation.

Since I’m on a roll, I’m going to go ahead and make this issue all about printers and printing. A question came up this week from a friend whose printer has issues cleanly picking off sheets of paper from the stack in the paper tray. He gets frequent paper jams, and says he has already replaced the rubber platen wheels in the printer, and it didn’t help. There are a few things to know if you’re in a similar problem.

First of all, unless they’re simply worn out, your printer’s rubber wheels in the paper path shouldn’t need to be replaced. However, they do get covered in dust, paper chaff and other gunk over time. If your paper is jamming, or your pick-off wheel isn’t doing its job, first try cleaning them with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab. Turn off and unplug the printer first, and allow all the alcohol to evaporate before turning it back on.

Another thing to note is paper orientation. Many reams of paper have an arrow on the label, pointing to one side of the ream, with words to the effect of “Image this side first”. This is a recommendation that this paper works best if you print to the indicated side, and if doing duplex printing, to that side first, and the other side second. Of course, that begs the question of how to tell whether your printer prints the top or bottom of the sheets sitting in its input tray. The secret is a little symbol that’s molded into the input tray of virtually every printer or copier made. Look for it either inside the tray, or on the tray’s cover. It is a little square with one corner folded down. It’s supposed to represent a piece of paper. There are lines on the paper that will either be on the face of the page, or visible on the folded down corner. If they are on the face, it indicates that the top of the page will get imaged first when the paper goes through the printer, and vice versa for the bottom. You can also tell which end of the paper will get pulled into the printer first by taking note of which end of the symbol has the folded corner. So, when loading up your printer, look for the arrow on the ream (if one is present) then pay attention to the paper orientation mark on the bin. You’ll have far fewer paper jams – that’s my Geek Guarantee!