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Common Copy-Making Errors and How to Avoid Them

Even though we live in a world that increasingly relies on digital documents, there’s still a massive demand for printed materials. Industry experts have made the surprising prediction that printed materials will gain relevance in the coming years as “virtual fatigue” sets in and people develop a renewed appreciation for print. It’s safe to say that businesses will need copy machines and professional copy services for a long time.

It’s also safe to say that many copy projects just aren’t done very well. We’ve all had the experience of being handed a copy that looks grainy, too dark or too light, off-centered, or even impossible to read. This isn’t the kind of impression business people want to make (or be left with). Clean, sharp, centered copies that look and feel professional aren’t as common as they should be. In large part, this is due to a handful of common copy-making mistakes.

1. Lines on the paper

Streaks, lines, bars—whatever you want to call this problem, it’s very common and very annoying. It can turn what would have been a very professional-looking set of copies into something that looks rushed and amateurish.

Possible causes include imperfections or substances on the mirrors or glass inside the copy machine; problems with the drum; or problems with other components inside the machine. If you’re making the copies yourself, consult the instruction manual for cleaning procedures that might help. If you’re receiving copies like this from a professional copy house, it’s probably best to find a new one!

2. The wrinkle effect

Even if the ink looks right, the pages themselves can be wrinkled or crumpled when many copies are made. The trays and rollers by which documents enter and exit the machine are usually to blame for this. They get tired and worn out, and need to be serviced. Moisture problems can also lead to wrinkled pages—and let’s not forget the possibility that paper can be damaged before it enters the machine.

Professional copy houses avoid this problem be keeping their machines properly serviced at all times. The result is a dependable service for their clients. If you’re experiencing this problem with your home or office copy machine, it’s probably best to call a technician unless you’re confident in diagnosing and solving photocopier problems on your own.

3. Too dark or too light

Usually, this problem is caused by settings you can change fairly easily—namely the “density” settings on the copy machine. Resetting these settings to “default” can often solve problems of copies coming out too light or dark. Interior components, namely the drum or toner inside the machine, can also generate this problem. If you’ve purchased off-brand or “after market” toner for your machine, replacing it with name brand product is one step you can take. Professionals never take chances with interior components, inks or toners that don’t work right, and they certainly should never deliver copies to a client when light/dark problems are present.

4. Mysterious spots

Dots or specks that appear on the same place on every page can usually be eliminated by giving the mirrors and glass components inside the copier a good cleaning. If dots seem to occur randomly, the copier’s drum may be defective and in need of servicing.

Turning out copies that make a strong impression

If you really want to steer clear of these problems, consider establishing a business relationship with a trustworthy print and copy specialist—someone you can look to and trust with your copy making needs. If the specialist is highly reputable, your copies should look immaculate every time. And if there’s a problem, they should be able to make it right at no extra cost to you.

If you’re in the habit of making your own copies, or using walk-in retail services, be sure to consider the common mistakes listed here and consult your instruction manual for best practices. When it comes time to pass out copies for that next important meeting, you’ll be glad you did.

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