Cut your printing costs

An employee changes the settings on the office printer to reduce the printing costs

With the paperless office still a long way off, printing can be a significant cost for some businesses. Here's how to stop your printer running costs soaring

Choose the right printer

It's a good idea to check running costs before choosing your printer. Making the right printer purchase in the first place will help you keep future spending down:

  • Avoid tri-colour cartridges. Tri-colour cartridges contain three colours of ink in one unit. These printers waste lots of ink. You have to replace the entire cartridge as soon as one colour runs out – even if the other colours have plenty left. Instead, get individual cartridges that you only replace once the ink has run out completely. This saves money and makes it easier to monitor and forecast running costs.
  • Consider third party cartridges. Generally, it is illegal for printer manufacturers to void a printer's warranty if you use printer cartridges made by a different company. These cartridges can be much cheaper than the manufacturer's own cartridges. Check if they're available for your printer – look for reputable vendors who sell cartridges which have been fully tested.
  • Check the feature list. Printer manufacturers regularly try out new features. Some features, such as eco-mode or double-sided printing can help you drastically reduce your ink or paper costs.

Get your printer settings right

Consider what quality of printing you actually need for your documents. If you don't need require the highest quality printing, use these settings:

  • Draft mode. Using this mode may mean dark colours look slightly lighter and text is a little less sharp. However, the small sacrifice in quality is more than made up for by the fact that you could be using half the usual amount of ink. What's more, draft mode usually prints faster.
  • Greyscale printing. Colour cartridges cost more than black ones. So only use them when you have to. Greyscale mode will convert colour in your document to a grey tone, printing everything in black and white and slashing the cost to print each page.
  • Print on both sides. This will halve the amount of paper you use. Many printers can do double-sided printing automatically (it's sometimes called a 'duplex' feature), so if your printer has this feature, use it.
  • Use cheaper paper. Modern printers are much more tolerant of cheap paper than they used to be. Most new printers will happily take weights as low as 75gsm. You can either replace the cheaper paper with good stuff when you need it, or use separate paper trays for each paper type.

How to change your printer settings

Not sure how to change your printer settings? If you use Microsoft Windows, go to the Start menu, click Settings and then Devices, then Printers and scanners, or click Start, Control Panel, then Printers.

Remember to change the settings back when you print important documents.

Small steps to cheaper printing

Some really simple steps can help you cut your printing costs too:

  • Check formatting. Eliminate needless headers and unnecessary big bold text. Even insignificant changes like reducing your standard font size from 12 points down to 10 will result in significant savings over time. You could even try an 'eco-friendly' font!
  • Recycle old cartridges. Dispose of your old printer cartridges appropriately. Responsible cartridge suppliers will take them off your hands for free. Alternatively, check out
  • Print in batches. Printers go through a warm-up process when you switch them on, wasting power and a small amount of ink or toner. They go through a similar process before every print job. So, if your printing is not urgent, queue the print jobs so they go through in one batch.

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