8 mistakes when printing in an office and how to avoid them

Forewarned is forearmed, so take note and avoid these printing mistakes.

Having a departmental printer in the office is very convenient for everyone, but there are a few common mistakes that are best avoided.              

1) Leaving confidential documents on the printer:

It's a common schoolboy error. You send a confidential print job to the printer, then an important phone call comes in or you're distracted by a hallway conversation on your way to collect the printout, and the document ends up sitting in the output bin for any passer-by to pick up and peruse. Fortunately, HP's Officejet Enterprise X offers an encrypted hard disk in all of the models up from the entry-level print-only device. In tandem with user access control, a document can be held securely until the authorised user who printed it enters the code. You can even use the HIP Pocket expansion slot to add a proximity badge reader, so an employee's security pass is required to enable printing.

2) Printing in colour when not necessary:

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Busy employees will be highly unlikely to check all their printer settings when they send a job. In fact, they will probably just hit the Quick Print button. This could mean they end up printing in colour, when monochrome was all that was required, which could be costing a few unnecessary pence for every page, and soon adds up. A printer with central management facility like HP's Officejet Enterprise X can allow you to set user preferences so the default is monochrome, and colour requires user intervention, or isn't available at all. It's even possible to set this on a per-user basis.

3) Printing in high quality mode for everything:

Along the same lines as printing in colour when necessary, employees won't generally bother to check the quality mode they are using when they print. So if the default is the top quality mode, more ink or toner will be used than necessary. HP's Web Jetadmin remote management tool can be used to set the default print setting to EconoMode, which saves ink or toner unless the user expressly specifies to use a higher quality setting. It's also possible to set a Default Print Density or resolution, for a finer control over quality.

4) Printing single sided and wasting paper:

Yet another issue caused by users being too busy to check their settings is that they will always print their documents single-sided. Again, the benefit of a printer that can be centrally managed is that you can remotely configure the default settings, and even apply a policy across a fleet of printers. Using HP's Web Jetadmin, you can turn on Duplex Binding by default, so all documents are printed in duplex mode unless otherwise specified, which could halve your paper usage costs.

5) Colour for the sake of it:

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Colour can add a lot of impact to a report, but it can also be over used. It may be a bit draconian to take the step suggested above and restrict use of colour entirely, because that would rather obviate the need to purchase a colour-capable printer in the first place. Fortunately, as well as turning off colour by default, you can also set a threshold for the mix of colour and black, beyond which documents are printed in colour. So only full-colour documents are actually printed in colour. However, it's also worth having a company policy on printing in colour only when necessary, and using the management tool's monitoring facilities to keep track of who is using colour excessively, so steps can be taken.

6) Humorous fonts just don't:

If you leave a kid unattended in a sweet shop, you really should expect them to grab the biggest chocolate bar available, and unfortunately it's the same with people who are not trained designers with fonts. It may be immensely fun to pepper a presentation or report with comedy typefaces, but it will almost certainly detract from the businesslike tone of a document, and could possibly make it harder to read, which will be decidedly counterproductive. Unfortunately, you can't block this with your printer settings, so you will need to train employees against poor font taste.

7) Low-resolution images:

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As with font failures, those who aren't trained in graphic design might not immediately realise that a low-resolution image will look terrible when printed out. There's quite a big gulf between a how a 72dpi screen renders a photo and a 1,200dpi print of it. Again, you will need to train your employees to think about the images they use, so they ensure that there are at least 150 pixels available per printed inch of paper, and preferably quite a bit more.

8) Too many fonts:

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As well as using ridiculous typefaces, overzealous employees will often overdo the number of fonts they use, because they think a different font for every point will get it noticed and add impact. But a seasoned designer will explain how this is more like everyone shouting at once to get attention - very hard to hear anything at all. Instead, fonts should be used sparingly and consistently, with a hierarchy of choices about which fonts, weightings and styles to use for different document elements. It might even be worth offering training sessions for employees who create a lot of presentations, so they gain the basic font and image skills to create good-looking printed documents.

For more advice on transforming your business, visit HP BusinessNow

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