How to Print Transparencies

Three Methods:Getting the Printer ReadyPrinting on the TransparencyPrinting at a Copy Shop

Transparencies are used to give groups a better understanding of what a speaker is trying to convey. Teachers, students, businessmen, and other professionals use transparencies on overhead projectors to make words and images appear on screens and walls. Transparencies can also be used in screen printing to help create the screens for printing shirts. You can print your own transparencies at home, as long as you find the correct transparency film for your printer.

Method 1
Getting the Printer Ready

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    Find transparencies.[1] Transparencies are a plastic film that you'll need to find or purchase. If you're printing for your school or office, they may have transparencies you can use for business or school purposes. However, if not, you'll need to purchase some from a office supply store, teacher supply store, or big box store.
    • Make sure you find the right kind for your printer. You shouldn't use laser paper in inkjet printers and vice versa.[2]
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    Clean the printer. Transparency packages come with a cleaning sheet to help remove stray ink from your printer before you print on the transparency. Because ink tends to smear on transparencies, it's important that you don't try to print on the transparency without cleaning the printer first.[3]
    • All you need to do is take the cleaning sheet out of its protective sleeve. Run it through the printer using your printer's feed button or the software. You shouldn't try to print anything on it.
    • You can save the sheet for later.
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    Load one transparency sheet in the printer. With specialty paper, you need to be more careful with loading. In other words, you should only load it one sheet at a time. Otherwise, you risk jamming your printer or wasting expensive paper because it doesn't print correctly.[4]
    • In addition, be sure to print on the rough side of the transparency.
    • If you're not sure how to load your paper so it prints on the rough side, make a mark on a regular sheet of paper and note how you put it in your printer. Print on the page to see how you need to load the transparency so it prints on the correct side.[5]

Method 2
Printing on the Transparency

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    Examine the image. Before your print, think about the purpose of your image. For example, if you're using a transparency in an overhead projector, you pretty much have free reign in what you print. On the other hand, if you're using the transparency for something like screen printing, you need to make sure the image has a clear outline and it's in black and white, to make it easier to print to the screen.[6]
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    Change the paper type. When you go to print, you need to change the type of paper you are printing on. Usually, you'll find it under the printing preferences. Look for something like "paper quality" or "paper type." Select "transparencies" under the type of paper.[7]
    • If your printer doesn't have a transparency setting, use the glossy paper setting.
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    Print the page. Once you have everything set up, you print the page as normal. If you're printing in black and white, you may want to set the printing to its darkest setting. That way, it will show the contrast better, whether you're using the transparency for an overhead projector or for screen printing.[8]
    • All you need to do to print is click "File" and "Print." Once under "Print," you can change some settings. However, you may need to go into "Printing Preferences" to change some settings.
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    Use your transparencies cautiously. While you can use these transparencies as you would any other transparency, you should realize that one you print at home won't be quite as durable as a professionally printed one. Be careful of your hand oils, and try not to get the transparency wet, as the ink may run.[9]

Method 3
Printing at a Copy Shop

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    Save your file. Usually, you can print from a file at a copy shop. However, you do need to bring that file with you in some form. You can save the file to a jump drive, for example. Alternatively, some stores will let you print from cloud services.[10]
    • To save to a jump drive, insert the jump drive into a USB port on your computer. Find the drive under "This PC." Go the "File" menu in the document. When you save the file, save it to the jump drive folder.
    • To save to the cloud, just save it to the folder on your computer for the cloud service you use. Make sure you're connected to the internet so it uploads to the cloud.
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    Take it to a copy shop. Most copy shops will print a transparency for you for a small fee. Having a copy shop do it can make the process easier. Plus, it saves you from buying a whole box of transparencies if you only need to print a couple.[11]
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    Print the file. Many places have self-service areas where you can print.[12] However, you may need to talk to someone to print to a transparency, as that is a specialized service, not standard printing. Generally, you pay per page you print.


  • Consider using clear plastic protection sleeves that clip into a binder to store your transparencies.

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