Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Reducing the Curl in Printed Documents.

Reducing the Curl in Printed Documents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 18, 2017)

3

If you live in an area that has high humidity, you might notice that your documents, printed through a laser printer, come out curled up. This happens due to the characteristics of the paper and the way in which laser printers work.

Paper has a tendency to absorb moisture from its environment. Paper shares two main characteristics with lumber (which shouldn't be surprising, seeing they are both made of wood). One characteristic is its moisture content, and the other is that it has a crown, or a natural bowing to it.

When paper is stored in an air-conditioned office environment, care should be taken that there is adequate ventilation around the paper, making sure that the paper is not directly in the airflow of the air vents. (Printers, as well, should not be placed over or next to an air vent. Condensation can form in the printer if moist air is continually blown through the printer itself.)

Paper has a natural tendency to bend in one direction, much like the crown in a long piece of lumber. If you open a ream of paper and loosely hold the stack of paper in the middle, it will sag on the ends. If you flip the stack over and do it again, you will notice a difference in the amount of sag. Depending on the paper path in the printer, you can take advantage of the paper's natural crown to help straighten the paper out as it travels though the printer.

Paper curls in laser printers because it experiences rapid moisture loss as the fusing rollers heat and press the ink into the paper. More heat goes to the side that the print appears on, less to the backside. That, combined with rollers that have small radii, causes the paper to stay curled.

Trying making sure that the paper is placed into the paper tray so it will be printed on the "crown" side of each sheet. The wrapper around the paper may also have markings that say "print this side." In this way, the natural curl of the paper counteracts—to a degree—the curl introduced by the fuser roller heating.

Also, some laser printers can be operated so the paper does not curl around several rollers. Usually this means opening a door on the back of the printer so the paper exits there and not on top. Check the user manual, especially for any details on how to print on heavy paper, card stock, or transparencies. Use this technique for your regular paper.

If your printer is an older one, it may help to get it services. Temperature controls on fuser rollers tend to degrade over time, and the fuser roller could actually be getting too hot. If you replace the temperature control mechanism (or the fuser roller itself), then the roller operates at a cooler temperature. The cooler temperature means less moisture loss on one side of the paper, and less curl.

Lastly, you can try keeping a small amount of desiccant in the paper trays and removing and storing the paper in the trays at the end of the day, and refilling them in the morning. If you store your paper in a cabinet, you might also try placing a desiccant in the cabinet with the paper. It will help absorb excess moisture so the paper doesn't absorb it.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3507) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Reducing the Curl in Printed Documents.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using Non-Printing Notes

Adding notes to your document in Word is a handy tool. But what if you don't want those notes to be seen on the screen or ...

Discover More

Controlling the Format of Cross-References

When you use fields to add cross-references to tables or figures, Word normally takes care of formatting the words used ...

Discover More

Reducing File Sizes for Workbooks with PivotTables

Need to reduce the size of your workbooks that contain PivotTables? Here's something you can try to minimize the ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Problem Printing Quotation Marks

If you go to print a document and find out that your quotation marks aren't printing properly, there could be a number of ...

Discover More

Reversing Print Order

When you print a document, does it come out of the printer in the order you need? Here's how to reverse the print order ...

Discover More

Fonts Unavailable in Word

If you have some fonts that don't show up as available in Word, their exclusion can be confusing. Here's a discussion of ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine more than 7?

2015-05-26 13:36:18

D. Rubin

Very helpful information! It is humid in my office (no AC), so I turned over the stack of paper in the paper tray and it printed beautifully without curling.


2012-11-30 11:04:36

sam kamalesan

how to reduce the heat for printing in hp laserjet p1108 printer.

can i take print out using ohp sheet instead of the a4 sheets using this printer??


2012-07-24 12:40:53

Melissa

We used to have problems with paper curling in the summer. We solved it by getting a mini dehumidifier for the small office where we keep the paper. It has worked very well. This may not work for every situation, but I thought I'd mention it as another possible solution.


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.