Fax Machine Paper

Make sure you use the right type

When fax machines first became popular on the market, they used only thermal paper. Even though you may have faxed a document on a regular piece of paper, the person who received the fax would get a copy of the document that was basically burned onto a roll of chemically-treated paper. Although plain paper fax machines were introduced in the 1990s and are now quite common, there are still many models out there that use thermal paper. It's important that you use the right size and type of paper for your fax machine or multifunction fax machine.

Following is a list of characteristics you should consider in choosing your fax machine's proper paper:

Size
Paper is referred to by its dimensions. The most common sizes in the US are letter (8.5 inches x 11 inches), legal (8.5 inches x 14 inches) and tabloid (11 inches x 17 inches).

Thickness
The thickness of the paper affects its handling characteristics. Thicker paper is stiffer and harder to tear or crease. Paper thickness is usually referred to in 'mil' or.001 inches.

Weight
This varies in paper, as it can be as light as newsprint or as heavy as cardboard. Paper weight is described in pounds, with most standard business papers range from 20 to 24 lbs.

Opacity
This refers to how well the paper can block the passage of light. The more opaque a piece of paper is, the less it will show through what has been printed on the other side of it.

Brightness
This refers to the amount of light that is reflected from the paper's surface. The more light reflected, the higher the brightness value. A higher brightness gives you crisper text and more vivid images because of the brighter background. This is especially important in color printing.

Smoothness
This refers to how text and images appear on the copied page. The smoother a paper's finish, the sharper and crisper the text and images will appear.

Finish
This refers to the surface of the paper. There are many types of finishes such as matte, glossy, semi-gloss, soft-gloss and satin-gloss. The finish will affect how the copy will look. For instance, high gloss will produce a shiny, mirror-like finish, while matte is much duller.

Most fax and copy papers are specially moisture-balanced so they will work without causing problems in the machines. Some people blame paper jams on the paper itself, but it would be more accurate to say it is improper storage and handling of the paper that generally causes the problem.

Tips on handling and storing paper:

  • Fan the paper before loading it into the fax machine to reduce static. This way the paper won't stick together and cause a jam.
  • Look for the arrow on the package label to find out which side of the paper should face up.
  • Don't store fax paper on the floor or in humid areas. Keep the packaging on until the paper is needed, as it has a plastic moisture-barrier that's designed to keep out humidity.
  • Keep the paper flat as often as possible.

Laser and inkjet papers are usually marketed specifically for those types of machines, however most copy and bond papers will also work. Some types of paper are called dual purpose or multi-purpose, and are designed to substitute for bond, copy, laser and inkjet papers. I maging papers are usually used when copying images and color designs.

Fax and copy paper has become an environmental issue over the past few years because millions of faxes and copies are generated every year around the world. This means a lot of trees are being destroyed. To combat this destruction, a lot of companies are using recycled paper in their manufacturing. This paper is virtually indistinguishable from regular paper as it has similar performance, color and cost. Some office equipment warrantees now permit the use of recycled paper, and some companies such as Xerox and Hewlett Packard sell recycled-content papers under their own brand names.

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