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Flip on Long Edge vs Flip on Short Edge

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If you have a printer that can print both sides, you may have heard the terms — flip on long edge and flip on short edge — when choosing the duplex printing mode. People often misunderstand these two terms and can be confused regarding the actual working of these orientations.

In this article, we will explain the difference between ‘flip on long edge’ and ‘flip on short edge’.

Here’s what we will cover:

What is Flip on long edge?

When selecting the long-edge flip option, your document will be arranged so that the flip occurs along the longer side of the paper. Consequently, the top and bottom edges of the paper will remain unchanged post-flip, and the pages can be perused from left to right, resembling the format of a book. The long-edge flip is commonly employed for duplex printing, as it maintains the natural reading order and alignment of textual content and images.

This orientation is suitable for documents printed in portrait mode, which is the default setting in most word processors and applications. For instance, when printing a report, essay, or letter on both sides of the paper, opting for the long-edge flip ensures easy page flipping and document reading without the need for paper rotation.

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What is Flip on short edge?

Photo by George Milton

Opting for the short-edge flip positions your document so that the flip takes place along the shorter side of the paper. Consequently, the left and right edges of the paper change after flipping, and the pages are intended to be read from top to bottom, resembling the layout of a calendar. Although less common than the long-edge flip, the short-edge flip can prove useful for specific document types that are printed in landscape mode.

This orientation is appropriate for documents printed in landscape mode, an alternative layout that involves a 90-degree paper rotation. For instance, when printing a spreadsheet, presentation, or brochure on both sides of the paper, selecting the short-edge flip ensures convenient page flipping and document perusal without the need for paper rotation.

AttributeFlip on long edgeFlip on short edge
Flip orientationAlong the longer side of the paperAlong the shorter side of the paper
Post-flip edge changeTop and bottom edges remain unchangedLeft and right edges undergo a change
Reading directionLeft-to-right, resembling a book formatTop-to-bottom, resembling a calendar layout
Common usageCommonly used for duplex printingLess common, but beneficial for landscape mode
SuitabilitySuitable for portrait mode documentsAppropriate for landscape mode documents
Document typesReports, essays, letters, facilitating easy page flipSpreadsheets, presentations, brochures, convenient flip
Rotation required after flippingNo rotation is required after flippingThe top and bottom edges remain unchanged

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Should you flip long or short edge?

The decision between selecting the long-edge flip and short-edge flip depends on factors such as the orientation, layout of your document, personal preference, and printing purpose. Here are some general guidelines to assist you in making a decision:

  • Opt for the long-edge flip if your document is in portrait mode.
  • Choose the short-edge flip if your document is in landscape mode.
  • In the case of a document with a combination of portrait and landscape pages, select the option that aligns with the majority of the pages or the one that enhances the overall design and readability.
  • If uncertain about the suitable option, preview the document before printing to observe its appearance with different duplex printing modes. Additionally, printing a test page allows you to assess the alignment and orientation of the text and images.

In conclusion, utilising duplex printing is an effective method for paper conservation, cost reduction, and the production of polished documents. However, it may pose challenges for those unfamiliar with terms like flip on long edge and flip on short edge. Check out the distinction between the above two options to get a clear idea of which one you should choose for printing.

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here:

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