When I first started using printable inserts, it took me a while to figure out how to print them correctly. Half the time it would come out perfect and the other half would end up in the recycling bin. Many, many Google searches later and with lots of help and advice from others in the planner community, I think I’ve finally cracked it.
So, in this post, I thought I would compile some common issues us planners face when printing inserts. I also outlined the potential diagnosis and solutions to these issues, along with screenshots of the printer settings to demonstrate the solution. If you’re new to printing inserts or just can't seem to get them to print right, then this post is for you!
Issue #1: My inserts came out too small/too big
This is usually a scale issue. Printable inserts, including the ones here at Puffin Pages Co, are typically formatted to be printed as actual size. Some printers might have the default setting of printing as fit to page or scale at something less than 100% (e.g. 97%).
Check your printer settings. Under Page Sizing and Handling, make sure to set to print as actual size or custom scale at 100% (see Image 1). Some printers might use different terms such as full size, no scaling or do not scale.
Issue #2: My inserts get cut off or cropped when printing on pre-cut paper
This is usually an issue with page margins or borders. Some printers might have default or pre-fixed page margins. When the printer is printing as actual size on pre-cut paper, it is also taking into consideration these margins.
Change the page size to a borderless page or if this is unavailable, create a custom page size with zero margins. To change the page size, click on Page Setup and under Page Size, select the borderless option (see Image 2).
To create a custom page size, select Manage Custom Sizes and set the width and height according to your paper size. For the Non-Printable Area, set to 0mm or 0” (see Image 3 and 4).
Some printers might not have borderless printing capabilities. If this is the case for you, you can select to print as fit to page instead. The potential downside with this is that you might end up with inserts that have wider or even disproportionate margins. You would also have to make sure that the insert file you are using does not include crop marks.
Issue #3: The crop marks are not aligned when printing double-sided
There could be several reasons for this. The first is that there is an alignment issue with the printer. This can happen sometimes if paper has gotten stuck or if the ink cartridges are not installed properly. Another potential reason is the paper is not feeding into the printer properly.
You can firstly check to make sure all of the hardware is set up correctly. You can then run an alignment print to realign the printer (refer to your printer’s manual on how to do this). This should also fix the second reason (i.e. the paper not feeding into the printer properly). But, if its still misaligned, you can try re-inserting the paper manually instead of using the duplex or double-sided printing function. Be sure to print odd pages first, then reinsert the paper followed by printing even pages.
Misalignment could also be caused by the printer having default or pre-fixed page margins or borders. Refer to the solution to Issue #2 on how you can fix this.
Issue #4: When printing double-sided, the second page is upside down
This has to do with how the printer is flipping the paper when it is printing double-sided.
Make sure it is flipped on the correct edge when using duplex or double-sided printing function. As a general rule, if the insert file is in landscape orientation, set it to flip on the short edge (also called short-edge binding). If it is in portrait orientation, set it to flip on the long edge or long-edge binding (see Image 5).
Issue #5: The front page is the second page of a two-page spread
This issue occurs when you’re printing a two-page spread double-sided (usually the case with weekly or monthly planners).
There are two potential solutions to this issue. The first is to opt for printable inserts that comes with its own cover page. However, not many shops offer this so your selection might be limited. The second solution (and the one I opt for) is to leave the first page blank. To do this, after you have printed a few two-page spread as double-sided, print one more spread but this time print it as single-sided. You can then use this single-sided one as the first and last page. You can use the blank space for sticky notes or reminders or alternatively, dress it up with vellum or acetate dashboards.
I hope this post has been helpful for you, especially if you’re new to printing your own inserts. It can be challenging at first (been there!), but like anything – practice makes perfect.
Are there any other printing issues that I missed? Let me know in the comments!