December 23, 2009, 12:18 PM — Pages printed on laser printers come out face down, so when you pick up the pile, the pages are in the correct order. Ink jet printers, however, print pages face up (the paper goes under the ink cartridges) so page number one is on the bottom, page two is next, and so on, meaning page 12 is on top of the stack. That means you do the “ink jet page shuffle” to get things back in numerical order. But here are some tricks to make your ink jet printer spit out the pages in the order you want, saving you time and aggravation.
First, check your ink jet printer's menu. A few printers, but not many, have the smarts to print the first page last, keeping the order you want. Look at the manual (remember, the one you threw out of the way when you opened your printer box?) for tips. There may be a setting for this in the control software loaded on your computer as well. Check both.
If that fails, and it likely will, your word processor can reverse the order in which pages are sent to the printer. This method works best when you have only one printer you use, because if you reverse print order then send the file to a laser printer, you're back to the shuffle.
In Word 2003, check out Tools > Options > Print, and check the Reverse Print Order box. In Word 2007, find and click the Microsoft Office button, then find Word Options. Click Advanced options on the left side of the dialog box, then scroll down to print options. Check the Print Pages in Reverse Oder box.
OpenOffice, the free productivity suite, also offers this trick. Go to the menu and click Tools > OpenOffice.org Writer > Print, find the Pages section, and check the Reversed box. Even easier, hit Control-P > Options > Pages section, and check Reversed. The Control-P option will reverse the print order for all subsequent print jobs, so you can avoid the longer menu drill down if you wish.
If you do shift between printers, try this trick. When you open the print dialog (Control-P), choose to print not all pages automatically, but a range of pages. Put that range in backwards. If you have a 12 page document, tell your software to print pages 12-1. That works in many printers.
And that's how you stop the ink jet page shuffle.