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Coping with Office Copying

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Faculty of Social Sciences

Coping with the Office

Your First Day at the Office | Coping with Office Copying | Problems with Office Paper | Office Food and Drink | Computers at the Office | Managers in the Office | Averting Telephone Problems in the Office | Email in the Office

This entry has been created to help you cope with office machinery and covers the photocopier and the computer printer. These machines have been carefully designed by teams of engineers and designers, and, when brand new, they tend to work very well. However, the chances of you getting to use a brand new machine are minuscule. The keys to success are patience and practice.

The Photocopier

This has to be the nightmare of the office worker. The photocopier, despite being designed for ease of use and efficiency, has caused more stress and grief than any other office device. Interestingly enough, manuals are written for every single copier model in existence and yet no-one ever has one.

  • Toner - This is the black powder that gets cooked onto the paper to form the words and pictures of the copy. It is carcinogenic (cancer causing) and so must be treated with care. If you get it on your hands, then it's best to wash it off as soon as you can. If you get it on your clothes, do not wash it but brush it out. If you spill it on the floor, then speak to your facilities or services department. Do not use a hoover to clear toner. The powder is so fine that it will go through normal hoover bags and will blow around the office!

  • Paper - The machine heats paper to around 200°C to melt the toner into the paper. The paper goes through a complex set of rollers and belts, so to avoid causing jams and problems, the paper must be in good condition. When you load paper into a copier, make sure that the paper is not creased or damp. Ideally it should be straight out of a fresh packet. Toilet tissue is not a good paper substitute, and be very, very careful about any sticky labels you may want to print on. If you get stuck on any part of this, it's always best to ask for help.

The best way to learn how to use a photocopier is practice. The modern copiers have a huge number of functions like staplers, collaters, stackers and so on. Get someone to show you how it all works and then practise each function separately. You don't have to use it for long to get the idea. Above all, be patient. Repeatedly hitting the copier with its own toner cartridge really isn't going to help and it will only make you feel better for a short time.

The Printer

This is probably the easiest to cope with. Printers tend to be quite fragile so if you beat them with a large stick, they're going to break. The toner system is much like the photocopier, so take care when replacing cartridges. If they are connected to a network, then this can cause you extra grief. If it goes wrong, the best thing to try before taking a hammer to it is to switch it off, wait a few seconds, then switch it on again. Talk to your friends in the IT department before taking drastic action.


Don't beat machines with sticks. They are there to help you. If they don't, then they are probably broken or you are not using them correctly. Happy copying.

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