GreenTech LogoDid you know that it takes one 15-year old tree to produce HALF a box of office paper? According to an InfoTrends study, the average office worker uses 130 lbs. of paper/year. That is approximately 37 reams of paper per person or almost 4 BOXES of paper.

Make a Change

One of the easiest and most effective changes you can make is to print or copy on both sides of a sheet of paper.

Do your printers and copiers duplex or print on both sides of a sheet of paper? If they do, do you and your office-mates have your computers set up to print on both sides? If you don’t know if your printer duplexes or want to know how to set it to auto-duplex follow the steps we outline below.

If your machines can duplex, figure out how to work the copier and set up your print settings on your computer to automatically print double-sided. Unfortunately, these settings are often hidden and vary by operating system and by printer. We have some links to help you determine the process for your operating system and machine. We also have some suggestions for you, even if your printer cannot duplex.

Increase Your Impact

Set Networked Printers

Once you are personally printing and copying duplex think about the other users in your office. If you have a printer on a network, they can usually be set to print double-sided by default. Then no one has to think about it. Note: Before setting your printers to auto-duplex, warn your staff and tell them how to manually print simplex (printing only on one side) for those RARE occasions when it is necessary.

Train Others

If your office refuses to set the printer to duplex automatically, persuade each staff member to automatically set their computers to duplex and then show them how. It only takes a couple of minutes once you know how to do it. Post signs above your copier encouraging staff to copy double-sided and offer trainings in how to do it.

Helpful Software

Consider using a print-management utility like FinePrint or GreenPrint that will encourage you to duplex and will help you eliminate wasteful pages from your print job. These two are either free or offer a nonprofit discount.


Of course, no matter what your choices on duplexing, please always remember to buy recycled content paper and then recycle it after use. Every year enough paper is thrown away to make a 12' wall from New York to California.

How To:

Can It Duplex?

To find out whether your printer supports duplex printing you can use the following clues to determine whether a specific printer:
  • Check the printer's properties by clicking Properties in the Print dialog box when you print a document.
  • Click the tabs in the Print dialog box and review the options. Look for tabs or buttons that read, Advanced, Printer Defaults, or Finishing. If options such as print on both sides of the paper, duplex printing, or two-sided printing appear on any of the tabs, the printer probably supports automatic duplex printing.
  • Check your printer manual or consult your printer manufacturer.
  • If you are printing to a combination copy machine and printer, and the copy machine supports two-sided copying, it probably supports automatic duplex printing.

Enable the Duplexing Option on Your Computer

Depending on your version of Windows, your printer list may be called Printers and Faxes and be directly under the Start menu or it may be called Printers, which is under the Settings heading, which is under the Start menu.

 Image of Start menu and printer option

If on a Mac, go to the Control Panel and look for Printers.

Open up the properties and look for tabs or buttons that read Advanced, Printer Defaults, Configure, or Finishing. Then look for options such as print on both sides of the paper, duplex printing, or two-sided printing.


Click on the appropriate box and click Ok.

Occasionally Print Duplex or Multiple Pages Per Sheet

When you want to print a document in the duplex mode on a Windows machine, select Print from the File menu, select your duplexing printer from the pull-down menu, and hit the Properties button on the right. Click the Finishing tab. Under Document Options, you may check the box to print on both sides of the page and/or select the number of pages you want to print per sheet.


Can't Duplex?

If your printer, copier, or multi-funciton machine does NOT duplex, you have a couple of choices:

  1. Manually duplex (see below)
  2. Set it up as the recycled printer – Put clean paper that has been printed on only one side and use it for drafts or unofficial printouts. Make sure the previously printed side contains only non-confidential information.
  3. Buy a duplexer: Many newer printers can have a duplexer added. These cost between $70 and $500 depending on the type of printer you have.
  4. Responsibly recycle (,, your machine and buy a new one. I have found many duplexing multi-function machines for less than $200 and duplex printers for less than $100. Please make sure your new purchase is also  Energy Star compliant.

Manually Duplex from Microsoft Word

With some printers, you can use the Manual duplex check box under Printer in the Print dialog box. Word will print all of the pages that appear on one side of the paper and then prompt you to turn the stack over and feed the pages into the printer again. Note: Depending on the printer model, you might have to turn and reorder the pages to print the other side of the stack. Once you figure it out, write down the procedure and post it by the printer so you can do it again easily.

Please join us on our discussion boards if you have a comment or a question about this post.

Anna Jaeger
Co-Director of TechSoup's GreenTech Initiative