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Double-sided Printing

Double-sided paper example

When it comes to producing album pages, brochures or greeting cards, printing on both sides of the paper is often a must.  But, double-sided output on an inkjet printer can be a tricky proposition.  Getting things registered perfectly while avoiding the dreaded backside roller marks can be a frustrating experience fraught with wasted paper, wasted time and lost revenue.  However, while two-sided printing presents unique challenges, taking some basic precautions and using the right tools can greatly improve your chances of success.

Protecting the back side

Probably the biggest challenge in double-sided printing is avoiding roller marks on the non-printing side of the paper.  It’s no fun to see a perfect print ruined as it passes a 2nd time through the printer by ink tracks or roller dents.  Here are some things you can do to prevent problems:

Keeping it clean

First and foremost,  keep the paper path free of ink left behind by previous prints. Some users regularly wipe down the rollers and guides with cleaning solutions or alcohol to remove any excess ink, though there are some who think alcohol can lead to degradation of the rubber rollers, eventually leading to rubber marks on the paper.  (Rubber rejuvenator solutions can help in that case.) Some paper manufacturers, like Red River, sell printer cleaning kits that can be used to remove residual ink from the rollers.

Avoiding full-bleed printing (which can lead to inking off the edge of the sheet) may be a good idea if you regularly need to print on both sides of the paper. And this one may be obvious–give the first print time to dry before feeding it through a second time.

Dent avoidance

The other big danger encountered with duplex printing are the roller “dents” or scratches that can occur, especially on softer, chalkier papers, as the paper feed mechanism of the printer is pushed against the bottom of the paper on its journey through the printer.  If possible, use a paper with a firmer, less delicate coating to avoid this kind of damage.  Using wider paper feed settings–like a media type setting geared to a thicker paper within ImagePrint, or wider platen gap on the printer, can help as well.  If you must print on a paper with a softer, more easily damaged surface, you may want to consider backing the paper with a “donor” sheet to protect it. (Though this presents its own challenges–feeding two sheets together through the printer is sure to tempt the paper jam gods).

Putting things in their place

After roller marks and dents, registration of each side of the print relative to the other is probably the most frustrating aspect of dual sided printing. Positioning images can be confusing when the paper is flipped and/or rotated–especially if the output is not to be perfectly centered on each side, or if more than one image per side is involved.

As mentioned earlier, many printers, when printing on sheet, have different top/bottom margins, so it’s important to know the true printable area of your paper and what those leading/trailing margins will be.  If using ImagePrint with one of these printers, you may want to take advantage of its “Center printable margins” feature which will equalize both margins to the biggest of the two–reducing total print size but making it much easier to center images on the physical page.

ImagePrint also offers a snap to grid feature as well as the ability to specify exact coordinates relative to the paper edge–both can be invaluable when you need exact positioning.

Even with the layout tools provided by software such as ImagePrint, dealing with multiple images on a page can be a challenge to position precisely on both sides of the paper–especially if you need to offset each side differently to accommodate page bindings. If you do plan to print more than one image on each page you may want to consider arranging the images into one large “page image” within Photoshop first.  Then simply position that single image within ImagePrint.

Practice makes perfect

Since quality double-sided media can be expensive, it’s often a good idea to print on cheaper media to confirm positioning and clean paper path before committing to large runs on the final product.

Smaller may be better

Double-sideded printing is one place where smaller printers (like the Stylus 3880 or 2880) may actually make the job easier.  Those printers often can print with no borders (full bleed) on sheet paper on all 4 sides whereas their larger, more industrial cousins don’t allow it.  What’s more, the smaller printers tend to take a wider variety of small page sizes (like a 4×5).  And when printing on sheet media in non-borderless mode, the smaller printer’s top/bottom borders are usually symmetrical and small (1/8th inch).  On the larger printers this isn’t the case– the leading margin tends to be smaller than the trailing which can present an alignment challenge when the paper is flipped for duplex printing. And as if all that wasn’t enough, the pinch rollers on new, plus-sized printers like the 7900/9900 tend to be set to a higher pressure level which can lead to indentations on the back side of the paper as it passes through.


For double-sided printing to work, both sides of the paper must of course be surfaced with an ink receptive coating.   Which leads to yet one more pitfall unique to double-sided printing (Last one, we promise!).  Coated media is often  “slicker” than  uncoated, which can potentially lead to more slippage and paper feed problems than normal. Not much you can do about this one, but be aware, you may see more paper feed issues on double-sided media than single sided for this reason.

Paper matters

There’s a lot of double-sided papers available, making it easy to find the right one for your particular project. And, as usual, one of the big values of ImagePrint is the availability of top notch media profiles to go with them.  Here’s a listing of double-sided media we currently have profiles for. This isn’t a complete list, and profiles may not be available for all printers we support.  If you come across a paper we haven’t covered yet, let us know–profile generation for valid papers we haven’t yet added is always free for Imageprint users (though we may ask you to send us a few sheets of the media in order to produce the calibration print).

Matte Papers:

Canson Infinity Rag Photographique Duo
Hahnemuhle Natural Art Duo
Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Duo
Ilford Galerie Smooth Heavyweight Matte
InkJetArt Museum Digital Art
InkPress Duo Matte 44
InkPress Duo Matte 80
InkPress Rag Cool Tone
InkPress Rag Warm Tone
LexJet Sunset Eclipse DS
Mitsubishi Dual Sided Matte
Moab Entrada Rag Bright
Moab Entrada Rag Natural
Moab Kayenta Photo Matte
Moab Lasal Photo Matte
Museo Artist Cards (formerly known as Crane Museo Artist Card)
PermaJet Double sided Matte
PermaJet Double sided Portfolio
Premier Imaging Premier Art Smooth Hot Press Fine Art
RedRiver Aurora Fine Art Natural
RedRiver Aurora Fine Art White
RedRiver Polar Matte
RedRiver Premium Matte

Photo Papers:

DAS E-Silver Duo
Ilford Galerie Smooth Lustre Duo
InkJetArt Micro Ceramic Luster Duo
InkJetArt Micro Ceramic Hi Luster Duo
InkPress Duo Semi Gloss
InkPress Luster Duo
LumiJet Glossy Two Sides
Mitsubishi Dual Sided Semi Gloss
Stone Editions StoneHinge Photo Luster

Categories: Printing Essentials
    August 6, 2012 at 10:07 am

    How much is the price of the high glossy photo paper double sided print able and how can I get it when I am in Ghana

  2. November 11, 2011 at 5:59 am

    These are great tips. I actually agree, the kind of paper you use does matter. Also, the quality of ink matters too. There are times when I bought the wrong paper, it’s difficult and time consuming to print both sides as I have to wait for the ink to dry before I can print on the other side.

  1. August 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

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