Have you picked out your classroom decor for the school year? Are you getting ready to print what you need? Or perhaps you’re in the middle of printing and ran into a few snags? Okay, either way, hang in there because I’ve got you covered. Below I’m going to show you how to print classroom decor and troubleshoot when your home printer doesn’t cooperate.
Ooh, before I forget! When you’re done printing your classroom decor, make sure to tag me on Instagram @SpiritedMorgan and show me how everything turned out!
Okay, back to getting your classroom decor ready!
Select your printer
Do you plan to send your work to a print shop or will you print your own materials? I prefer to print my own classroom decor because I have more control over what I print and the size I want. If I want to scale a particular resource (more on that in a moment), then I can.
Home printers have come a long way, too! But I’ll tell you, they don’t all offer the same functions or print quality. My current printer doesn’t have a poster setting option in the printer dialogue box. Yet it boasts a better ink quality than earlier printers I’ve owned. Ink quality will vary by printer, and the ink will impact how realistic your materials look compared to the product previews of your digital classroom materials.
If your printer prints dark and more saturated, you might be able to print in draft mode and still achieve beautiful results. On the other hand, if your printer errs on printing light, then you might need to select “high-quality” or “best” print options to get a more saturated look.
If you’re in the market for a new printer, then take some time to read consumer reviews and specifically what they have to say about ink quality and the bells and whistles that come with the printer(s) you’re researching.
Also check ink costs. The ink for my current printer IS expensive, however it seems to last forever. The printer dings when ink levels start to get low, so I’m less likely to run out mid-print. To avoid running out of ink, look into whether the printer you buy offers an ink delivery service.
Choose your paper
I go for high-quality, low-cost cardstock (I buy mine at Walmart). One thing to keep an eye on is the paper brightness. Cardstocks often run the gamut of bright white to an ivory white. The paper brightness will impact how the printer colors look on your finished materials. For example, my classroom decor materials look brighter on regular copy paper and a bit more muted on my thicker cardstock.
Check the weight of the paper, too. If the paper is too flimsy, the ink might saturate the paper. And if it’s too thick, it may not glide through the printer feed well (I’ve experienced both in my lifetime). I stick with a cardstock weight of 110 lbs. And I reserve the lighter-weight copy paper for short-term, quick-use, low-ink printables.
Scale your classroom decor
When you print your own classroom decor, it’s important to learn about your printer’s settings, including scaling options in the printer dialogue box. Each printer is different, but you will likely have the option to SCALE TO FIT THE PAGE or SCALE to a certain percentage (including scaling to less than or more than 100%).
Learning how to scale your classroom decor can help you troubleshoot throughout the printing process. For example, even when materials are sized to the same dimensions in two different programs (let’s say an 8.5×11 PDF and an 8.5×11 text editable PowerPoint slide), the images might print in different sizes. The PDF could print true-to-size while the PowerPoint page could print the image just slightly smaller. When this happens, I usually scale the smaller item UP to 104% or 105%.
Alternatively, you might scale a document down if the size is too large for the space. For example, you might print alphabet posters that fill an 8.5×11 sheet of paper, only to discover they are too big for their designated spot. To make them smaller, you have a few options:
- Option 1: Print multiples to a page (2 to a page is a good choice, if you want your materials to be about 50% their original size).
- Option 2: Scale the pages. In this case, you could reduce the poster size to 80% or 70%, if you want something smaller.
Can you scale something to be significantly larger? This depends on your printer options. It also depends on what the item is. If a resource is scaled too large, it could distort the content or images that are printed.
NOTE: The alphabet posters pictured above are from my Watercolor Succulent Word Wall with Sight Words and Alphabet Posters product on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Decide classroom poster borders
Do you want your posters to have a border around the edge of the sheet? Or do you want the design to reach the edge of the page? I sound like a broken record, but the options you have for page borders will also depend on your printer options.
A quick way to maximize the space on your classroom pages is to select “Fit to page” in the printer dialogue box. This will scale the design to as close to the edge of the page as the printer will allow. You may end up with some white border, but there’s a way to handle that if it occurs.
Use sharp scissors to trim around the edges, or use a paper cutter. It doesn’t need to be a heavy duty paper cutter either. In fact, my favorite type is the compact paper cutter found at most craft supply stores. Stock up on replacement blades so you don’t wind up with feathery edges on your pages.
If that still feels like a lot of work, then take a second look at your posters. Do they still look okay with the border? Many classroom materials look great with the white page border, almost like they were designed that way.
How to print classroom decor bonus tip
One of my favorite ways to store my classroom decor when they aren’t in use is by putting materials in page protectors and storing them in binders. I can label the binder with the names of the decor bundles stored in it, and I can peak immediately to see where my alphabet posters are compared to where my weather chart pieces are. Magazine holders are also another way to store the page protectors if you find some that are cheaper than binders. I’ve done both, and they work really well!
I hope this helps you organize, print, and store your classroom decor! Take care and be well. I’m glad you’re here! ❤️