Updated 05/09/17

What is duplex printing

What does duplex printing mean?

What is Duplex printing?  It’s one of those phrases within the printing industry that often confuses people, and rightfully so since it is certainly not self-explanatory.

Duplex printing means that you can print on both sides of the paper with your printer either automatically or manually by turning the paper over after the first side has printed. This functionality lets you save on paper and help the environment by using both sides of the page.

In order to duplex, your printer will need to have the functionality built in and not all printers can duplex print.

How does duplex printing work?

When you click print on your printer, (providing you have selected the option to use both sides of the page in the page setup dialogue box) and your printer has duplex functionality, then the computer will tell the printer to use both sides of the page. Then, depending on the capabilities of your printer, once one side has printed, the paper will feed back into the printer (sometimes this must be done manually) and print on the opposite side of the page so that both sides have been used and printed in the correct sequence.

How do I duplex print?

Firstly, you will need a printer that has duplex functionality. Your printer will normally have that if the model number contains a ‘D‘ at the end. Eg 2600DN. As with all printer related technology, the availability and setup of duplex printing can differ hugely between makes and models of printers so hopefully this guide will show you how to utilise duplex printing to benefit your business.Secondly, if you do have a printer that is capable of duplex, then it will need to be setup in the printer menu or via your PC.

Duplex model printer

Auto Duplex Printing or Manual Duplex Printing?

Depending on your printer you may have the options for either auto duplex printing or manual duplex printing. As you can imagine, the automatic version is much simpler to use and doesn’t require any additional effort once set up, whereas manual duplex printing does require a bit of additional work by turning the page over yourself, although can be worthwhile for the cost savings.


Automatic Duplex Printing

As the name suggests, printers with an option for auto duplex printing will allow you to simply click on ‘print’ and for all of your documents to print out double sided by default. Depending on your printer, it will either be possible to setup auto duplex printing from the printer settings via the computer or from the printer settings via the menu screen on the actual printer. Below shows how to set up automatic duplex printing using both methods. As mentioned previously, this will likely differ slightly for your specific make/model of printer but it should help guide you through the process and point you in the right direction.


Setting up Auto Duplex Printing from the Printer’s Menu Screen

On your printer menu you should find a section that allows you to either edit the Eco settings or the general settings as can be seen in the image below;


Duplex printing options on printer menu

Duplex printing options on printer menu


Within one of these menus you will find the settings that will allow you to edit the defaults for double sided printing;


Copy icon set to off on menu

Copy icon set to off on menu


Generally these settings are turned off by default as can be seen above, so by simply changing all of the different settings available this will mean that your printer will now be set up in automatic duplex mode so that all of the documents you send to the printer will print double sided by default;


Copy icon set to 'on' in menu

Copy icon set to ‘on’ in menu


It is important to consult your printer documentation when updating this since changing the wrong settings could lead to unexpected results.


Setting up Auto Duplex Printing from the Printer Settings on your Computer

Setting up automatic duplex printing from your computer is a very similar process, once you know where to find the relevant settings. Firstly if you are using a Windows operating system, then navigate to the Control Panel, then to the View Devices and Printer page and you should see something similar to the image below;


Screenshot of printers in control panel

Printer settings in the control panel on your computer


Next you will need to right click on your printer and click on Printer Properties to open the settings where you can alter the default printing settings.

Now the trick is to find the settings which allow you to change the printing defaults. These settings are usually found under the ‘Advanced’ tab as can be seen below;


Screenshot of default settings for printers

Default settings for your printer


Click on the printing default button to open the settings that allow you to change these. Within the printing defaults menu that has opened there is generally a section that shows you what additional features and settings are available for you to customise. Assuming your printer actually supports auto duplex printing, you should see an option for this as can be seen below;


Screenshot of auto duplex printing settings

Auto duplex printing settings


Once you have updated your printer settings, make sure you click OK or Save to keep the changes you have made. Your printer is now set up to automatically print double sided by default when you are printing documents.

It is important to note that the above settings will be used by default from now on unless you change these. If you are only looking to print double sided on occasions then it would be recommended to use a different method by changing the print settings within the application you are using at the time you want to print.


Manual Duplex Printing

Depending on the make and model of your printer, you may not have the option to utilise automatic duplex printing. Instead there is generally an option for manual duplex printing, although this isn’t labelled as such. Manual duplex printing ultimately achieves the same end result, double sided printing. The difference is though is that you have to actually turn over the paper yourself once prompted.

With some printers, setting up manual duplex printing is the same process as outlined above and is contained within the printer settings. With other printers though, manual duplex printing requires a little more creativity. If your printer is capable of manual duplex printing then you will usually be prompted by the printer when you need to reinsert the paper.


Using Manual Duplex Printing without Changing Settings

Often on older printers there isn’t an option for duplex printing although businesses still want to reduce costs and print double sided. Depending on the software you are using, there may be an option when you click on print to only print odd or even pages as can be seen in the printing settings when printing from Microsoft Word;


Screenshot of duplex settings within MS Word

Manual duplex settings within Microsoft Word


What this option results in is that you can print all odd pages first then once they have finished printing you simply turn over the paper the paper that has just been printed, re-insert it into the printer and then print the even pages on the opposite sides.

As you can imagine, this requires some refinement initially so you and anyone else using the printer knows which way to place the paper back into the printer so that you don’t end up with printouts that are the wrong way up.


One-Off Double Sided Printing

The above information talks you through how to change your printer to default to double sided printing, but what about if you only want to do this the once or on an infrequent basis? Thankfully there is also a solution to this.

When you want to print double sided just for the document you are working on, then when you click on the print button there is usually an option to allow you to change the printer properties for this print only. Click on this will bring up the same menu as seen earlier which allows you to tell the printer to print double sided for this document only as can be seen below;


Table showing cost savings of duplex


Depending on the printer again, but this will generally mean that duplex printing has been enabled for printing the document you are working on only.

what is this sourcery

Which Manufacturers Offer Duplex Printing?

Most manufacturers have a printer with duplex printing enabled and one easy way to tell which printers have duplex printing capabilities is by looking at the model number for the printer such as, Ricoh SPC240DN Colour Laser Printer. While the model numbers may seem arbitrary at first inspection, there is actually information contained within. The D within all model numbers actually means that the printer is capable of duplex printing.

The same can be seen with the Lexmark CX410dte which is capable of duplex printing along with the Canon PIXMA MG4150, although the difference here is that the Canon doesn’t actually contain the D within the model name which can be deceptive.


Cost Savings for Duplex Printing

Utilising auto duplex printing can save a reasonable amount of money over time depending on the quantity of printing you are doing. Below is a table that shows how much you could save by switching to automatic duplex printing within your organisation;


Cost savings using auto duplex printing (click for larger image)

Cost savings using auto duplex printing (click for larger image)


While you aren’t going to save any money on your toner cartridges or ink cartridges from utilising duplex printing, at least you can save some money on your paper costs. There can also be a huge environmental impact from switching to duplex printing, with one study of Arizona State University saving 725 trees since switching to duplex printing.


Duplex Printing Summary

Hopefully this has clarified some of the questions you may have had about duplex printing, whether this was related to auto duplex printing, manual duplex printing or double sided printing. If you have successfully utilised duplex printing in your organisation we would love to hear from you about how that has worked for you, so please leave a comment below.

Looking for a duplex printer?

If you’re looking for a printer that has built in duplex capability, then we most definitely recommend auto duplex. Most modern office printers now have this functionality as standard and the easiest way to spot if it does is if the model number contains a ‘D’ at the end as we mentioned earlier.

If you’d like to find a duplex printer then we have created a printer finder that allows you to select ‘duplex’ as an option:

Printer Finder >