Intimidated by downloading and printing at home?
Some people shy away from using instant downloads out of fear that the final printed product won’t measure up. It’s true that print-at-home will not have the same quality as a professional printshop. But once you weigh the factors that matter in your situation–quality of print vs. expense and time of getting it printed outside the home, you can choose which one makes the most sense for you.
The beautiful thing about instant downloads is, you have the file forever and can print it as many times as you want to.
To ensure that you have a great experience with my instant download printables, I’ve created this guide to help you get the best results when you choose to print them at home. There’s even a handy table at the end of this article for quick reference. Just find your product in the sections below and follow the guidelines.
Note: These tips assume you have an inkjet printer. Often, I recommend Draft quality to conserve ink, which results in a perfectly acceptable product without noticeable loss of quality.
Big, fat success tip: Adjust your printer settings per these instructions, then print 1 test page from the actual file you downloaded. After you’ve made sure everything is right, go back and check your settings again and set the print quantity. For regular paper, you can print many copies in one go, but still print a test sheet first.
When working with card stock, print one page at a time. The extra work will save you time and paper in the end!
Ebooks and Workbooks
Ebooks and workbooks are super straightforward. Print on 8.5 x 11 plain paper, single or double-sided, your choice. Set print quality to “Draft.” For double-sided printing, be sure to choose “Long-Edge Binding.”
Card decks are designed to be printed on 8.5 x 11-sized card stock. Here are a few suggestions for card stocks to use.
◆ Card Stock Warehouse 65 lb. cover stock, in a neutral color, like Whip Cream, a barely-there off-white. Note that these card stocks have the same color on both sides, so only a pale color will work with the card decks, which have a design on the front.
Another option is Colorbok’s Watercolor Rainbow, which has a bold tie-dye-like design on one side and is white on the other, and is a heavier card stock.
Printing Card Decks
◆ Settings: 8.5 x 11, Specialty Paper Matte, Draft quality
◆ For best results, feed 1 page at a time.
◆ To print card backs: Most of my card decks include a file with decorative card backs, giving you the option to have something other than a plain reverse side. (This helps differentiate different sets, in case you, like me, have them all.) To do this, you will still feed one page at a time, printing all the front pages first. Don’t move the printed pages from the output tray until you have noted which way the top of the page is facing!
Then find the file with the back-of-card design, and print it on the back of each printed page, 1 page at a time. Feed the pages into the printer, blank side down, top of page facing the same way they came out of the printer. (Printing the backs is optional.)
Cutting Card Decks
All my card decks have dotted guidelines for cutting. There are several options for how to cut them, depending on the tools you have on hand and how fussy you want to get.
◆ Use a utility knife with a straight edge on a self-healing cutting mat.
◆ Use good, sharp scissors and cut by hand.
◆ Use a simple, portable paper trimmer with magnet, ruler and sliding blade.
◆ Use a self-healing cutting mat and roller cutter (see below.) You must use a straight edge to guide the cutter.
◆The trifold brochure is meant to be printed on 8.5×11 paper. Be sure to check 2-sided, color, and short-edge binding in the print options. (Don’t forget to specify the number of copies you want to print!) Print quality is “Draft.”
◆ To fold the trifold brochure, lay the printed document down in landscape orientation on a firm surface, with the side that has the front panel of the brochure face down. (It will be on the left side of the page.)
Fold the right-hand side of the paper back toward the middle of the paper, estimating one-third the distance to the opposite edge of the page. Make sure to line up both the top and bottom of the section you are folding with the top and bottom of the rest of the page. Make a light crease.
Next, fold the left side back and over the right side, so that the edge of the paper comes even with the crease you just made. Make sure it lines up top and bottom with the rest of the document. When you are satisfied with the placement of the folds, go back and sharpen the creases, either with your fingertip or a bone folder, if you have one.
Once you have folded one brochure, find a landmark of text or image on the printed page to use as a guideline for folding the rest of the batch. You only need to find one landmark, for making the first fold. After that, simply line up the left edge of the page with the folded edge on the right, and you’ll have it!
◆To print the poster on 8.5 x 11-sized paper: Open the document in your pdf viewer, and choose the print option. Make sure the size is set to U.S. Letter, print quality is “Best,” and orientation is “Portrait.” If you are using a speciality paper, such as glossy or matte photo paper, be sure to choose that option under Paper Type/Quality.
◆To vary the size of the poster: Open the document in a pdf viewer and choose the print option. In the print window, choose the paper size you want, then tick the option Scale to Fit and tick Fill the Entire Paper. You can choose borderless or not, whichever you prefer. This will scale well with anything from 4×6 to 11×14. You can also choose custom sizes.
◆Coloring pages are meant to be printed on 8.5 x 11-sized paper: Open the document in your pdf viewer, and choose the print option. Make sure the size is set to U.S. Letter, print quality is “Draft,” and orientation is “Portrait.” If you are planning to frame the page after coloring it, use a heavier card stock (see instructions under Card Decks for paper recommendations), and be sure to choose the “Specialty Paper Matte” or “Glossy” option under Paper Type/Quality.
Recycling Tip: You can print out coloring pages on the unused side of previously printed scrap paper to conserve paper.
◆To vary the size of the page to make a poster: Open the document in a pdf viewer and choose the print option. In the print window, choose the paper size you want, then tick the option Scale to Fit and tick Fill the Entire Paper. You can choose borderless or not, whichever you prefer. This will scale well with anything from 4×6 to 11×14. You can also choose custom sizes.
If you’re a chart-lover, you may find the table below a useful summary of the information presented above. Click on the image for best view.