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HP Printers - How to Store and Handle Paper to Avoid Paper Jams

This document is for HP Inkjet printers.
To help prevent frequent paper jams and maintain the best print quality, it is important to protect the printer paper from damage caused by improper handling, storage or extremes in temperature, and humidity. Follow the guidelines and steps in this document for handling and storing the paper you use in your HP printer.

Step 1: Use paper that meets the printer’s specifications

Before you buy paper, review the paper-handling specifications for your printer, and then make sure that you purchase paper that matches those specifications. Follow these steps to check the paper specifications for your printer.
  1. In the Search text field, type in your printer model and "Printer Specifications", and then press Enter.
    A page opens that displays matching results.
  2. Under Recommended Links, click the Printer Specifications document for your printer.
    The Printer Specifications page opens.
  3. Click Paper-handling specifications, and then save the information for your records.

Step 2: Store printer paper in a controlled environment

Store your printer paper in an enclosed space that is flat, dry, and easily accessible. Follow these guidelines to protect your printer paper from damage, prevent paper jams, and preserve the quality of your printed documents.
  • Original package. Store the paper in its original package until it is ready for use. The package helps prevent the paper from being torn, wrinkled, folded or otherwise damaged. It also protects the paper's specified moisture content, weight, and other physical characteristics.
  • Reseal after opening. When you open the paper package and do not use all the paper, be sure to reseal the package with tape. This protects the paper from environmental factors and also prevents dust from accumulating on the paper, which can cause the printer to pick up more than one sheet at a time.
  • Room temperature. Store the paper at room temperature and at a relative humidity of 45% to 55%.
    Image: Store paper at room temperature with relative humidity between 45% and 55%
  • Keep away from doors, windows, and vents. Avoid storing paper and print media near heating and air conditioning vents, or near windows and doors that are used frequently. The temperature and humidity fluctuations near these areas could damage the paper.
  • Flat surface only. Store the paper on a flat surface, preferably in a cabinet or on a shelf. Do not store paper on uneven surfaces, like the top of the printer or the edge of a table. This can adversely affect the physical properties of the paper and cause poor print quality, paper jams, or paper pick issues.
    Image: Do not store paper on uneven surfaces
  • The three-month rule. As a general rule, do not purchase more paper than you can use in three months. Paper that is stored for long periods of time can suffer damage by extended exposure to the environment.

How temperature and humidity can cause paper jams

The following section explains how your paper can be damaged by environmental conditions and cause paper jams.
Paper is hygroscopic. Ambient humidity and temperature fluctuations can affect the following physical characteristics of printer paper:
  • Paper weight
  • Paper thickness
  • Paper rigidity
Heating systems and air conditioners remove humidity from the air, and evaporative coolers add humidity to the air. If paper package is left open, paper can lose or gain moisture. Paper that has lost moisture content streaks and smudges when printing.
Image: Temperature and humidity can damage print media
HP printers are designed to produce high-quality documents when the printer paper meets the printer's specifications.
Image: Normal printing process
As paper loses and gains moisture, its physical characteristics can change, and the paper warps or gets wavy. Feeding warped or wavy paper into the printer results in paper jams.
Image: Warped paper causes paper jams
Image: Wavy paper  can cause paper jams

Step 3: Load and handle the paper carefully

Paper that is misaligned in the input tray can cause paper jams, or can cause the printed image to be skewed. Feeding paper that has damaged by mishandling into the printer can cause paper jams, skewed images, and generally poor print quality.
Follow these steps to load the paper in the printer.
  1. Open the paper tray door, and then pull it toward you to extend the paper tray.
  2. Gently pull out the paper tray extender, and then lift up the paper catch.
  3. Slide the paper width guides to their outermost position.
  4. Examine the condition of the paper, and then replace any ripped, dusty, curled, wrinkled, or bent paper.
  5. Load a stack of U.S. letter or A4 size paper into the input tray with the short edge forward and the print side down. Push the stack into the tray until it stops.
  6. Slide in the paper width guides in until they rest against the edges of the paper.
  7. Push the input tray forward until it clicks into place. Make sure that you push in the tray all the way to avoid an error message.