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Printing checks from QuickBooks Pro to a HP Laserjet Pro 400

Posted on 2014-10-16
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Last Modified: 2014-10-21
Good evening,

I have an HP Laserjet Pro 400 ( M401DN ) monochrome printer.  The printer has both networking and duplex functionality built in.

I purchased the optional 500 sheet paper tray ( HP Part # CF284A ) and the printer sits on top,

I have Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2013 or 2014 (no real differences) running in Windows 7 Pro (all products are fully patched and up to date).

I want to use the (standard) 2nd paper tray to hold my pre-printed laser checks, and move my plain letter sized bond paper to the new 500 sheet tray.  Sounds pretty standard right?

( NOTE:  I've pre defined the contents of each tray in both the HP Windows driver and physically in the HP laserjet menu via the little LCD settings touch screen. )

The problem that I'm having is that when I select print checks from inside QuickBooks and I select the HP Laserjet Pro 400 as my default check printing printer, the printer pulls from the correct tray and prints on the bottom side of the pre-printed laser check.  The pre-printed checks are printed in sequence.  The first check in the stack needs to be the first check printed and so on down the stack.  I can't turn the stack over as the printer will not draw from the bottom of the stack.  My checks must stay in top to bottom order or this is a useless printer solution for me.

Additionally I have explored the printer settings and options and found that the print order option (Front to Back) or (Back to Front) makes no difference with this situation.  Rotating 180 degrees has no benefit either.   I need the printer to realize that I need to print on the top of the page not the bottom.

This should bring in the duplex functionality of the printer (already built-in to this specific model) .
I need to printer to skip printing on the initial page draw then kick in the duplexing functionality and pull the paper back into the printer and print the actual check voucher on what is physically the top of the pre-printed laser check.

I spent 2hrs on the phone with Intuit today and they gave up, claiming they had never seen it, but they are very interested in what I discover if I find an answer.  I just got off a chat session with HP (off shore) support.  They wanted $39 for a one time tech support ticket (with no guarantee that they'd actually find a solution for my $39 investment.)

I can't be the only person that has had this problem.

I thank you much in advance for anyone that can shed some light on this situation.
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Question by:tvinzant
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by:Herman D'Hondt
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I'm not sure I fully understand your description of the problem, but it seems you are trying to print on both sides of the cheque sheets.

When duplexing, a printer always prints the second side first. It does that to ensure the sheets will stack correctly, face down, in the output tray. This problem often comes up when people duplex on paper that has different fronts and backs, e.g. letterhead. In your case, the problem is made worse by the fact that the sheets are numbered as well, and you want to keep them in that order, so turning the stack upside down does not help, nor does a face-up output tray. Both of these options will output the cheques in reverse order.

One option would be to have the printer print the cheque numbers. That way you can reverse the print order, and have them come out in the order you want. Of course that means new cheque forms. Alternatively, if you want them in the correct order for something like insertion in the correct envelope, you could use window envelopes, or reverse the print order of the envelopes.
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by:DansDadUK
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My understanding of your problem is:

Cheques are placed in the tray face-up, with lowest numbered cheque on top.
Print job selects plex-mode of Simplex.
Each cheque is printed in the correct order (i.e. on the correct pre-numbered sheet), but on the blank rear face, instead of (as required) on the front face.

With many printers, this is expected, since the stationery has to be loaded in one way for Simplex jobs, but a different way for Duplex jobs.
If your printer follows this approach, then the media should probably be loaded face-down for Simplex jobs.
But this is obviously not possible because (as you point out) unless you manually reordered all the cheque sheets (a very error prone operation), this would cause the printer to print first on the highest-numbered cheque.

One possible circumvention, if supported by your printer & printer driver (or QuickBooks if it generates output without using a standard driver), is to make use of Alternate Letterhead Mode, which allows 'sided' media to be loaded the same way for both Simplex and Duplex jobs.

My understanding of how this works is that the media is then always loaded as for Duplex jobs (i.e. face-up), and:
For Duplex jobs, the rear face is  printed first, on the underside of the sheet from the paper stack; the front face is then printed on the topside of the sheet after it has passed through the duplex unit.
For Simplex jobs, the printer itself generates a dummy rear face, and prints this on the underside of the sheet; the simplex page is then printed on the topside of the sheet after it has passed through the duple unit.

The only down-side to this mechanism is that ALL Simplex print jobs which specify a Paper Type of Letterhead or PrePunched are sent through the duplex unit, thus decreasing the throughput.
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by:DansDadUK
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See this thread for a reference to use of Alternate Letterhead Mode on LJ 4050 (but not LJ 5Si).
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Fred Marshall earned 250 total points
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I don't fully understand the need for duplex printing with checks.  From the description it sounds like you want to print on the same side but at the opposite end / "top"???
So, if you could clarify the need for duplex because I don't understand why you need it yet.

Here is what I do for similar situations:
- Use the printer as a network printer with a TCP/IP port.
- Install the printer for regular printing with the properties set so Tray #3 is the default and perhaps only tray for this purpose.
- Install the printer AGAIN with a new TCP/IP port but with the same IP address.  This will force a new PORT for this printer.  Doing this will cause the printer to show up separately in the Devices and Printers window.  Name this printer "Checks".
- Set this new printer to print from Tray #2.  

Beyond that:
You can order your checks to be sorted according to check number from highest to lowest or from lowest to highest.  Before you get them that way, a manual re-sort is the way to solve this for now.

For simplex printing:
I don't think that the printer will print out of the original stack on any side but what's face down.  Consider the paper path.  There should be a symbol on the paper drawer that indicates this.  So, that's your starting point.

I don't think that the printer will print anything but the top of the page on the end of the paper that's at the back of the drawer.  But, there may be settings to control this.

The printer will print "first page first" or "first page last / last page first" depending on selected setting.

If possible, I'd stick with that but maybe not possible in your case??
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by:DansDadUK
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I don't think that the question poster is trying to, or wants to, print on both sides of the cheque.

But (my understanding is that) he has found that when 'sided' paper is placed face-up in the tray, the rear face is printed on when a Simplex print job is received,

The reference to duplex was "I need to printer to skip printing on the initial page draw then kick in the duplexing functionality and pull the paper back into the printer and print the actual check voucher on what is physically the top of the pre-printed laser check".

i.e. he wants the printer to insert dummy rear faces and print Duplex with his Simplex job, in order to be able to use face-up media in the tray.
If the printer supported Alternate Letterhead Mode, this is effectively what it would do with Simplex jobs; but I don't think that this model supports ALM.

The User Guide manual for this model is distinctly unclear on loading the trays - it doesn't seem to mention anything about paper orientation, nor if there is any difference in loading 'sided' media (e.g. Letterhead or Prepunched) between Simplex and Duplex jobs.
... and I don't have any access to this model to try to find out.
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by:Fred Marshall
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Ah!  Well that would avoid buying checks in the desired order and it would avoid manual resorting of the stock on hand.

Making the printer do what's not really possible to make up for reverse check ordering is perhaps the hard way to go.
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by:Jeff Brown
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There really is no way to avoid manually reordering the checks before placing them in the printer.  The printer pulls from the bottom of the tray and prints on the bottom.  The checks must be placed in this manner to ensure that they print correctly.  QuickBooks does not have any options for flipping the paper over before printing (even though your printer does support duplexing the software does not have that option)  The other alternative is to use the other tray for checks even though it is not how you want to have it setup do to the size of the paper tray.
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by:DansDadUK
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>> .. The printer pulls from the bottom of the tray and prints on the bottom ...

Is this a typo? Did you mean "from the top of the tray"?
How can a printer pull from the bottom of a stack of paper?

It would be nice to establish just how 'sided' media is supposed to be loaded in the trays in this printer model.

i.e. for each tray (the behaviour of the cassette trays may be different from the behaviour of the multi-purpose tray):

For Simplex printing, should the paper be loaded face-up, or face down? Should the top of the sheet be towards the rear of the printer, or towards the front?
For Duplex printing, should the paper be loaded differently?
Does it make any difference if the Paper Type specified for the tray (and in the received print job) is set to Letterhead rather than Plain?

Since the User Guide manual provides no guidance in respect of this information, this detail would either have to come from HP, or from some-one with this model willing to perform the relevant tests.
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by:Herman D'Hondt
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@tvinzant

Please give us an update. We're just guessing about the exact nature of your problem.
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by:tvinzant
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Well folks I truly appreciate all of the comments.  I've been consuming all of the comments over the past few days.  Kudos to all that have offered their support.

What I believe (at this point) to be the solution will be that I have to manually (by hand) reorder out of sequence the pre-printed laser checks.   Then place the checks face down in the paper tray.  That should resolve the issue.

As I understand it, there are pre purchase ordering options to buy these checks printed in reverse order sequence.  That way you don't have to manually sort them that way.

There doesn't see to be any other way to do this, and I'm really shocked that a HP Laserjet with duplex capability in 2014 can't print on a specific side of the page.

Thanks again to all for your contributions to my issue.
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