What causes a copier/printer paper jam?

paper jam

Locate the paper jam, open the door, lift the lever, pull the paper out, close the door, print one copy, and… repeat.  All you want to do is print this one little ten-page document that your boss needs in 20 minutes. By the time the 10 pages have finally spit out, you need a tranquilizer so you don’t beat the machine into tiny chunks of metal and plastic with a baseball bat.  The fact of the matter is that if you are experiencing repetitive jamming, there may actually be a human error at play.  Below are some common issues that may be causing your nightmarish paper jam problems.


There are a few factors when it comes to loading your paper that could be your culprit.

  • The incorrect side of the paper is facing up. There are a few ways to identify which side is the correct side. Better quality paper will have an arrow on the side of the packaging that will point to the side that should be facing up.  If your packaging does not have this arrow, you should cup your fingers loosely under the middle of the ream, flip it and do the same to the other side.  Whichever side has the most sag is the side that should face up.
  • The paper tray has been overloaded. The feeders are set to pick up the paper at a particular starting point. If the paper is stacked outside of that starting point, a misfeed will occur causing a jam right out of the gate.
  • The paper guides are not set properly. You should make certain that they are touching, but not squeezing all sides of the paper. Improperly adjusted guides cause misalignment during the feed process and can easily cause a jam.


Low-quality paper contains higher levels of paper dust, excess moisture, and is prone to curling when exposed to heat.  Any one of these individual flaws can contribute to repetitive jamming issues.


In some circumstances when a jam is being cleared, a tiny piece of the paper will break off and remain in the machine.  The copier may show as clear and ready to go. However, the small piece is picked up by sensors when the machine begins to print again, causing a fresh jam.  You may go through this cycle continuously not realizing that this has occurred.  Carefully check the rollers where the jam occurred to look for any fragments that may have been left behind.  For future jams, it is helpful to reassemble the paper to determine if it is complete before you try to continue with your print job.


If you are trying to print on a heavier stock paper but the copier’s settings are set for a low-weight stock, you will more than likely experience jamming at some point during your print job.  The proper weight should be listed on the paper packaging.

If you have tried all of these fixes but still jamming, machine wear and tear may be the cause.  Like a car, the parts of a copier experience wear and tear and need to be replaced periodically.  If you need assistance, contact Ford Office Technologies’ service department by calling 800.633.3673 or visiting Ford Office Technologies.com.  We provide comprehensive customer support and determine the cause of the issue and offer employee training.

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