Duplex-Printing – Definition

LAST UPDATE: March 2nd, 2019


Duplex is a term for printing on both sides of a piece of paper.


Typically the term “duplex” is used for a hardware mechanism that physically flips the paper around to physically print on both sides.

Printers with a duplex unit can print on both sides of the page.

There are also software systems that can “duplex print.”

With software duplex, typically the operator prints the pages on one side of the paper. Next, they physically take the half-finished document and load it back into the paper feeder with the blank side of the paper ready to print. Last, they resume the print job, printing to the back sides of the page.

Software duplexes can be cumbersome to use and are prone to having pages printed on twice or different sides of the paper around the wrong way.

Why do people want to print in duplex mode?

Printing on both sides of the pages uses less paper (helping the environment) and creates smaller documents which are easier to handle.

How do I print to both sides of the page?

It depends on both the software that you have and the printer’s or fax machine’s software.

In our experience, the best practice is to choose advanced printing options (such as duplex mode) through the printer’s software (called a print driver, or print settings). As each printer has its configuration, there is less risk of confusion between the software and the printer.

Some software (for example Microsoft Word) has an option to print to both sides of the page.

It is important to not select both “duplexing from a software program” and “duplexing from the printer’s settings or print driver.” Many printing errors come from having print options selected in both the software and the print driver.

More information and examples of Duplex print instructions