Workplace Wednesday: Photocopier Etiquette

Posted by Eric Smith

PC Load Letter?!

Did you know that April is Workplace Conflict Awareness Month? Well according to Google and Wikipedia it is! And if the Internet tells you something, it has to be true. Right? Right.

In honor of this clearly legit declared month, we’re posting excerpts from Caroline Tiger’s How To Behave: A Guide to Modern Manners. In How To Behave, Caroline dedicates an entire chapter to office etiquette. It’s my hope that these bits of wisdom, posted every Wednesday this month, will help you to alleviate the conflict in your workplace.

Photocopier Etiquette

From How To Behave by Caroline Tiger

Here’s what to expect from an office machine: that it functions consistently at its highest level. And though machines may malfunction because of old age or missing parts, usually when an office machine isn’t working, it’s because of human error. We must remember that the photocopier is a delicate mechanism that, when properly fed and cared for, will provide the average worker with limitless productivity and hundreds of pristine copies—collated and stapled, no less—every workday.

But the photocopier is only as efficient as the people who use it, and in a busy office that means coworkers must cooperate when it comes to making sure the machine is well tended at all times. Following the essentials of copier etiquette is the best way to start.

1. Never leave the copier without first attending to a flashing icon, which usually indicates a paper jam or misfeed or the need for a new toner cartridge.

2. If you cannot resolve the copier’s distress signal by yourself, notify your office manager or machine serviceperson immediately.

3. Never leave the copy machine empty of paper.

4. If you used colored paper or letterhead or any type of paper besides white, remove it before leaving the machine so that others don’t use it by mistake.

Do not kick it, punch it, or become violent towards it in any way.

5. If you become frustrated with the copy machine, do not kick it, punch it, or become violent toward it in any way.

6. Do not eat or drink around the photocopier.

7. Do not smudge the platen glass with your oily fingertips.

8. No matter how funny it looked in the movie, do not attempt to photocopy your own or another’s body parts.

9. Remove staples, sticky notes, and paper clips from whatever you’re going to copy.

10. Little jobs trump big jobs. If you’re making five copies of a 250-page report, you should interrupt the job to let in the person who needs to make a one-page copy.

For more information on How To Behave by Caroline Tiger, scope out the book’s official page.

Eric Smith


ERIC SMITH is the cofounder of Geekadelphia, a popular blog covering all-that-is-geek in the City of Brotherly Love, as well as the Philadelphia Geek Awards, an annual awards show held at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He’s written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, and