4 Innovative Tricks To Save Printer Ink


First post of 2011! Yay! So I thought I’d start with something that can help protect the environment and at the same time, save you some cash. Quite a good idea, no?

So as the title says, we’re going to try to have your printer drink less ink, and hence reduce the amount of money you invest feeding it. You should know that I tried and am still using those measures for a laser printer, but I believe that what works for toner should work pretty much the same for liquid ink. I have no idea about how dot-matrix printers will react, so don’t ask.

Don’t print!

Stop calling me Captain Obvious! I know that point is plain common-sense, but I didn’t mean you should not print anything – but that you should select what you are printing.

Say you’re printing a web page. I doubt you really need to print the all-black header followed by all the ads scattered everywhere, the fancy sidebar and the all-black footer. You can use tools to remove those, and we’ll see about them in a moment. First let’s see what we can do about text documents and PDF files, and assuming you only want to read a part of the document.

No need to print the whole thing, and waste ink. Turns out you can select a Print Range in the Print dialog, as shown below. You can select what to print in 2 ways:

  • Highlight what you want to print, choose “Selection” then print
  • Select a page range, say page 2 to page 5, then print. I find that one easier, since highlighting can sometimes be a pain.

Now what about web pages? You can use tools such as PrintWhatYouLike, PrintLiminator and PrintFriendly to get rid of what you don’t like off a page – like images, then print the result. You can see a before-after comparison of what the BBC news web page looks like after I applied PrintWhatYouLike on it. That should save quite some ink!

BBC News - Before

BBC News After

Oh, and by the way? Always, ALWAYS use the print preview feature before you print anything. This has saved me quite some ink in the past. Once, I nearly printed 50 pages of the wrong range. It only costs a few seconds to check if everything is alright, but will save you quite some cash on ink in the long run.

Thin Fonts / EcoFont

Turns out you can save ink just by changing which font you use for your texts.

If you haven’t heard of EcoFont yet, you can go check it out on its homepage. Basically, EcoFont is a font (duh!) with holes in the characters, so for every character printed, you’re saving a tiny bit of ink.

Some folks were not convinced (down at the time of writing). Why use a special font, when you can use thin fonts like Century Gothic or Calibri? Printer.com has an article on their blog about which font made the most savings with respect to ink, and the conclusion was using Century Gothic was even better than EcoFont. A quick Google search revealed several other articles claiming Century Gothic is the “greenest font”.

So choose whichever font you want, be it EcoFont, Century Gothic or Calibri (as long as it’s not Impact) and make some savings.

No bolding!

Avoid using “Bold” fonts. As simple as that. Bolding fonts implies making them thicker, and so more ink goes into the characters. While it may be impossible to completely stop using bolding, try to avoid it.

Instead, where possible, try using underlining or italicizing the text. If italics are not eye-catching enough, you can try increasing the size of the font a bit, or maybe even use a different font, like if you are using Century Gothic, use Courier New to highlight some text. Up to you to see what you like best. For me, underlining works best as the alternative for bolding.

85% Black

I’ve only tested this one with laser toners and it does make savings. If anyone tests this measure with inkjets and see it works, please report back. Thanks!

As the title says, instead of printing in pure black, just set the color of your text to 85% black instead. Or even less, depending on what you consider “readable” text to be.

How do you do that in Microsoft Word? Well just set your Text Color → More Colors → Custom, then set the RGB values to 60,60,60. (Those values work best for me. Feel free to experiment)

The end result (if you are using toners) is that you somewhat make every font look like EcoFont. If you look closely, you’ll see empty spots in the characters. Check the comparisons below, for 100% black vs the 60/60/60 greyish-black color.

While you are at it, make pictures lighter. You can do that in any picture editor by playing with the Brightness/Contrast settings.

100% Black

85% Black + Toner Save (printer setting)

Bonus: Green Print / Fine Print / Eco Print

You can also use desktop-based software to help you with some more savings. You can use the free version of Green Print or the paid Fine Print or Eco Print software to make some more savings.

These software allow you to extensively control your print job, such as giving you the ability to turn documents to grayscale, remove unwanted pages or images and especially, allow you to have a better print preview feature.

If you have the money, you can try investing in those applications. But I think the measures above should cause quite some savings on their own.

Well, that’s it for this first article of 2011. I hope you enjoyed the article and that you find it useful. If you have tricks that help you save ink, please share via the Comments below. Thanks for reading!

  • Here’s a calculator that shows you haw much you save by switching to different fonts and it includes ecofont. Just select the font you’re using now, and the font you’re thinking of using – and find out how much the move will save (or cost) you in ink. Here’s the link: http://www.inkfarm.com/Best-Fonts-for-Saving-Ink

  • This is a Great article.Thank you for information 🙂

  • Great article.. thank you.

  • Ecofont doesn’t really save money. I found that when the text gets to big on paper the holes are very noticeable and inconvenient. Actually the page coverage of arial is less than that of ecofont.

  • really a valuable stuff.your tricks are very valuable keep it up.

  • Canon MP560 Printer Ink

    Really good stuff, your tricks are very helpful, keep it up.

  • Celine

    In order to save ink and paper you can use this new free program GreenCloud Printer