How to Handle a Paper Jam

Paper jams can be irritating -- but they happen to the best of printers. Here are some tips to follow to clear the occasional paper jam from your inkjet or laser printer.


To clear a paper jam:

  • Pull Carefully
    If the sheet of paper is visible at the output slot of the printer (in other word, it stopped on its way out of the printer), try pulling carefully on it. If it pulls smoothly and easily, then carefully pull it the rest of the way out. If there is resistance, then stop and go on to the next step.


  • Open the Cover
    Open the printer cover and wait (in the case of an inkjet printer) for the carriage to stop moving. Carefully, slowly pull out any paper that is caught there.


  • Take Care
    Do NOT pull paper out from where it was feeding into the printer (where the blank paper enters the device). The rollers on your printer may only go in one direction, and if you force them the wrong way, you could damage the machine.

Be careful of the following:


  • Laser Printers
    If you have a laser printer, be very careful when pulling out the paper -- laser printers can get hot.


  • Paper Shreds
    If any paper tore, either during the jam or while you were removing them, remove any appliances that you can (paper trays, etc.) and look for the shreds of paper. Try to make sure nothing has been left behind.

If you have frequent paper jams:

  • Don"t Overload
    Overloading your paper tray can cause paper jams. Your manual may say that your input tray can hold 250 sheets -- but if you keep getting jams, try loading 225 sheets instead.


  • Check the Paper
    Check the minimum/maximum paper weights that your printer can handle. Paper that is too thick, or too thin, can cause jams.


  • Check the Manual
    If, after these precautions, you still get frequent jams, your printer rollers or some other part of the hardware may need adjustment. Check the manual for directions for your particular printer, check the manufacturer"s Web site for additional directions, or (if your printer is still under warranty) call your support line.