What is duplex printing? I never used to know either.
I didn’t even know duplex printers existed until I got my first office job – ignorant, I know!
I’ve put together this guide to help you better understand what duplex printing is, the different types of printers, and a bunch of other things I think are important for you to know.
The goal here is to give you all the information you need to have a firm grasp of this topic.
This is by no means an exhaustive article and isn’t meant to cover every single aspect – that would take much more time.
By then end of this guide, you should have enough information to take on buying a duplex printer, and know whether or not it’s a good match for your needs.
We’ll deal with the things that are unique to duplex printers and answer questions like “What is automatic duplex printing?” and “What is manual duplex printing?”
Let’s get into the guide!
Table of Contents
What is Duplex Printing?
Basically duplex printing is printing on both sides of a single sheet of paper.
This is obviously an over-simplification, but it gives you the basic idea.
Duplex printing can be done in two ways:
- Manual printing: you physically take the freshly printed sheet of paper and turn it over to be printed on the reverse side
- Automatic printing: this is done by special duplex printers that turn the paper over automatically and print on the reverse side
The manual mode can be done on an ordinary printer and requires a little testing to make sure you don’t print upside-down or back to front.
The automatic mode cannot be done on simplex printers.
What are Simplex Printers?
These are the opposite of duplex printers and can only print on one side of the sheet automatically.
If you want to print on both sides with a simplex printer, you’ll need to manually turn the sheet over and place it back into the feeding tray.
What is duplex mode printing?
Once again, this depends on the printer you have.
When you choose to print, a dialogue box will pop up. This is where you have the chance to tell your computer and printer that you want to print on both sides of the paper.
You’ll need a printer that’s compatible with duplex printing. You’ll be able to fine-tune the process and give the printer more advanced instructions.
The printing is then carried out according to these instructions. It’s done automatically on a duplex printer – but will need to be manually controlled on other printers.
What are the Various Types of Duplex Printing
In order to properly answer our “What is duplex printing?” we’ll need to talk about all the different types of it.
Here are the various types of duplex printers we’ll take a look at in this section:
- Automatic duplex printing
- Manual duplex printing
For each one, we’ll look into it a little more and also talk about how to print using that method.
You’ll learn about the process you should follow to successfully print. The steps easy to follow and are beginner-friendly.
What is Automatic Duplex Printing
As mentioned before, these printers are able to print double-sided by default. They can be set up to do this automatically.
There are two ways to change these settings (depending on the printer you have):
- Via the display on the printer itself
- Via the printer settings on your computer
I’m not going to get too much into how to change the settings on the printer itself as there are so many different options out there.
Before you attempt to change the settings, make 100% sure that your printer is capable of duplex printing. This could save you quite a bit of wasted time.
My advice is for you to find your printer’s manual and go to the section that deals with the printer display or menu. Use that to navigate to the relevant section.
You want to set it to print double-sided by default so that you don’t need to manually select the setting every time.
The other way to change the settings is via the printer’s settings from your computer. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to Control Panel and then to View Devices and Printers
- Scan the list for your printer’s name and right-click on the icon and select Printer Properties
- This will open the box that allows you to adjust the printer’s settings and defaults
- You should see a bunch of tabs along the top of the dialogue box that shows up
- Navigate to the Advanced tab and look for the Printing Defaults button – it should be near the bottom of the window
Clicking on this should take you to the section that has the settings that allow you to change your printer’s default printing settings.
If your printer is compatible with duplex printing, then you should see a setting like Auto Duplex Printing Settings.
You might not see the exact phrase, but you should get something along the same lines.
Go through the settings and change the ones you need to. Bear in mind that everything you print from now will adhere to these new settings.
If you’re looking to print double-sided once-off, this might not be the best approach, so we’ll outline that process in a bit. For now, though, let’s move on to how to manually print.
What is Manual Duplex Printing?
I’ve found this to be the go-to option for most people. Your ability to use automatic duplex printing depends on the make and model of your printer.
Many common printers don’t have the ability to automatically print duplex by default.
Don’t get worried yet though, the manual process is quick and gives you broad control over what and how you print.
This section goes into what manual printing is and how to do it on most Windows computers.
There are two types of manual duplex printing:
- Printing by changing the printer settings on your computer
- Printing without changing the settings of your printer (for the most part)
Manual Duplex Printing by Changing the Printer’s Settings
This will be the method you should go with if you’re using a printer capable of duplex printing.
You’ll need to browse all your printer’s settings to see if there are any options to print duplex. There is usually a setting, but it’s often not clearly labeled as such.
Spend a little time working through your settings, and the pop-up dialogue boxes that come up.
If you don’t have any success with this, then I’d suggest you move onto the next step.
If you do find the setting, take note of where it is and what it’s called. You’ll need to repeat this when you print.
The prompt is usually near the end of the printing process. There’s also a chance that it’s on your actual printer body, so double check there too.
Manual Duplex Printing without Changing Settings
These steps are perfect for the ordinary printer, or if you aren’t sure whether or not your printer is able to duplex print.
This is a pretty easy to handle workaround, so don’t give in just yet. These steps might slightly differ depending on what software you’re using.
Here’s what you should do:
- Check to see if you have the option to set pages to print in odd or even number (e.g. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9)
- This option is usually at the bottom of the drop-down list that shows when you click on the Print All Pages option (or the nearest similar button)
- There should be an option near the bottom of the list called Only Print Odd Pages or Only Print Even Pages
- If you use MS Word then you can follow these steps exactly – otherwise, you need to do a little research to find where the option is for your specific software
- You can print with odd numbers only first
- Take the printed paper and feed it back in the other way round (to print on the reverse side)
- This time, print with only even numbers
If you’ve followed these steps correctly, you should have all your documents duplex printed.
The manual steps are a little touch and go, so don’t worry if the options you have aren’t the same as mine. Each printer and software program has its own variations that you need to familiarize with.
What is Edge Binding Duplex Printing?
This refers to the process of printing so that the final product acts resembles that of a book. These are designed to pivot on one edge of the paper.
Here are the different types of edge binding duplex printing:
- Long edge portrait – the normal orientation of an A4 piece of paper and the paper flips left and right as a normal book does
- Short edge portrait – the binding is on the shorter edge side of the paper and the pages flip vertically
- Long edge landscape – the pages flip vertically on the long edge of the horizontal long edge
- Short edge landscape – the pages flip left and right along the shortest side of the paper
What is Centre Binding Duplex Printing?
This works the same way as the edge binding, except that the bind along a line through the center of the page.
The pages open like a booklet and are printed in two columns and these are the three types:
- Booklet-open to the left
- Booklet-open to the right
- Booklet-open to the top in landscape orientation
You should have a good idea of how duplex printing works and how you can do it for yourself.
You’re now equipped to print in duplex both manually and automatically.
It might take a while to get completely comfortable, but a little practice and experience should give you what you need.
Now that you have your answer to the “What is duplex printing?” you’re ready to get out there and start getting the results you want from printing!