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February 2, 2010 10:48 PM   Subscribe

Any ideas for an alternative to the "cover sheet" that is printed from an HP networked printer? Would love to eliminate that wasted paper.

In our office, paper is at a premium. So, it drives me crazy when we have a few printers configured to kick out a cover sheet for each print job. Maybe you've seen this sheet in your office -- your username spelled out on multiple lines, with the print job number and date below it. Since numerous people use the printer, the cover sheet does serve a purpose in keeping their printings separate. However, once that is done, the page is left there as scrap paper... over time, this amounts to quite a bit of wasted paper.

Is there a solution that can accomplish what the cover page does, without the waste? I was wondering about a footer, similar to how printing in a web browser marks a page with a URL. I would have no idea of how to accomplish that. Thoughts?
posted by kensch to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Best answer: It is possible to turn on footers like that on some printers. However, you may get a lot of user pushback from it, unless people are just printing stuff purely for their own use. Many people may really not like the idea of the printer kicking out something on the bottom of their document that they didn't explicitly put there.

At the very least, assuming your printer has good paper feed, you can take the used cover sheets, turn them upside down, and run them through the printer again. I worked in an office that did this, and it did not seem to appreciably increase the number of paper jams.

(In theory, it might cause more jams out of the bottom of the feed path, because that's not a part where the printer normally expects to have toner on either side of the page. Once you get further along in the path, if it's a duplexing printer, it'll be designed to cope with printing on the back of the page. However: most modern office printers have good paper handling, and are a lot less sensitive than people think they are, based on experience with older/finickier printers. You'd be amazed at the crumpled crap that I could run through the office Lexmark.)

Aside from that ... you can always look to ways of using the excess paper rather than tossing/recycling it. You could take it and use it for scrap, or make tear-off pads from them. Actually you can do this with all your single-sided waste copier paper, if you want and your office will allow it. (If people are worried about confidential information spillage, put a burn bin next to the recycling for the confidential data. They probably shouldn't be putting it into the regular recycling if it's confidential anyway.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:29 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

We used the backs of the cover sheets to do math on.

But, then, it was a software engineering company.
posted by Netzapper at 12:01 AM on February 3, 2010

We always used the back of those sheets for scrap, specifically half-sheets (cut with a guillotine) that could be used for ideation sessions to visualize concepts, etc. But they made great scratch pads for people's desks, sometimes cut to quarter sheets.

Basically, lots of people were using full sheets of printer paper for all sorts of things that the back of a cover sheet would work perfectly.
posted by qwip at 12:01 AM on February 3, 2010

This is called a "separator" or "banner" page, which can be turned off on the machine that is sharing the printer out. Go to the printer folder where the printers are shared, go to Properties, and look for the checkbox and turn it off (it may be on an "Advanced" tab). I'm assuming you're using Windows to share the printers, btw.
posted by rhizome at 12:22 AM on February 3, 2010

We have a number of shared printers in our department, some shared by hundreds of people, and their are no coversheets or any other indication of whose stuff is whose. People pick up their own stuff and leave stuff that isn't theirs, and in general it works pretty well.

We do have some trouble with occasional documents never getting picked up, which also wastes paper. One suggestion that has been made, but not implemented, is to set it up so that all jobs to the printers are held and picking them up requires a person to go to the printer and instruct it to print their document, so that they pick it up right then and don't forget that they printed it. This seems like it might be a solution to your problem, as well.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:56 AM on February 3, 2010

Yeah, this is just a configuration issue. If you can print the configuration (can be done from the menu unless it's been locked down by somebody), you can get the IP number of the printer.

Then you can type that IP number into any web browser and get to the configuration for the printer in an easy-to-use interface (again, assuming that nobody's locked it down).

Look for the setting for turning off this banner page; the location will vary based on the printer model. If you give us the HP printer model, we can look up the precise directions and navigation steps to turn this feature off. But you'll probably be able to find it once you start looking at the different configuration options in the printer's web interface.
posted by at 5:14 AM on February 3, 2010

One thing to consider before turning banner pages off is that this might just be a policy for the department/org. Even if it isn't, there may be others who want it on for whatever reason.

In most of the places I've worked people have preferred to not generate the waste paper. However, I've also noticed that departments without banner pages have more incidents of people mistakenly picking up other peoples' pages (especially if it's a single sheet between two large jobs.) Banner pages do seem to cut down on that happening. That, and being able to deliver unretrieved jobs are about the only positives for having banner pages (in my experience.)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:38 AM on February 3, 2010

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