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A problem I've often had when loading paper into a printer is when two or more sheets get stuck together. This is unnoticeable when you put a big stack of paper into the printing tray, but becomes a real pain when you actually start to print. Especially if you're trying to print two-sided - two sheets come out with only one side of each printed on - but even if you're not, a sheet twice as thick as normal often causes a paper jam.

Are there any good ways to avoid this problem?
Note: I'm not talking about dealing with a paper jam after the fact, but about what to do with the paper before loading it into the printer in order to make sure sheets don't stick together in the first place.

"What have I tried?" I searched on Google about this problem, but all the links I found (one, two, three, four, five) were about unjamming a jammed printer, rather than stopping it from jamming in the first place. So I came to the trusty life-hackers of Stack Exchange!

  • Yep, fanning, as illustrated in the answer - if that doesn't do the trick, you need to buy better quality paper, because that never jams up, and two sheets don't go through together, in my experience. – Bamboo Dec 19 '15 at 11:02
  • 99.99% of the time, sheet fed paper misbehaves in a printer feed tray due to a humidity and temperature variation. Most papers are designed to be stable in a 45-55% relative humidity (RH) at 72°F environment. Each different printing technology requires slightly different optimal environmental conditions for the substrate. Once you have stabilized the temperature and humidity, misalignment will be the remaining challenge, albeit very minor. – Stan Aug 17 at 16:57
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Just before printing, remove the paper from the printer and fan it to prevent the paper from sticking. One of the sources I reviewed said that in an arid environment, fanning could cause sticking due to a build up of static electricity.

Grab one end of the paper with one hand. Grab the opposite side with the other hand. Bend the paper (without causing damage) so that an arch is formed. Using your thumb (either hand will work for this), release that side so that the paper is allowed to separate.

Picture showing how to fan the paper Image from Lexmark

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I know this is an old question but other people may still be coming across it (like I did). As the previous answer indicated, fanning is usually a good way to prevent paper from sticking together. Here are some other solutions.

Keep the paper in its packaging (unopened) as long as possible. If you don't go through a lot of paper, but you take out a couple reams and load them in your copier or printer, they will be more likely to stick or cause jams than if you leave reams unopened until you need to use them.

Use good-quality paper. Higher-quality paper is typically more expensive, but it runs through a printer so much better. Some good brands of paper that in my experience don't jam as much as other brands include HP, Xerox, and Hammermill.

Monitor the humidity. Paper stored in a very humid room will be more likely to stick together. Especially in the summer, when it's hot and humid, do whatever you can reasonably do to prevent excessive humidity. Some larger printers offer tray heaters, which can also help with paper sticking together.

Flip the paper every now and then. Some printers have flat paper trays, but others only have partial bottoms, which causes the paper to bend or droop, which can lead to jamming issues. Every so often, take the paper out, fan it, and put it back in upside-down, to help even out any drooping in the paper stack.

  • +1 for this great review. – Stan Aug 17 at 17:00

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