Here is what it looks like from the side. The handle to the big shot is located on the right side. If you are left handed, just flip the whole thing around and crank the handle that way.
Here I have 2 clear plates called cutting pads and they are made especially for the XL dies (extra long). As you continue to use the machine, you will be able to see the different cuts from the die appear on the clear plates. This is normal. Each kind of die has it's own cutting pads. The XL dies have XL cutting pads, and the original and BIGZ dies have their own cutting pads. Don't use them interchangeably. First, insert one cutting plate into the Big Shot.
Then, place the die directly on top of the cutting plate.
Choose your paper and place directly over the die.
Just to show you how it should be layered.
Now, place your last cutting pad over your paper. Be sure they are all nicely lined up, or "sandwiched' together.