How to cut printing costs

Cut printing costs - A practical guide

It’s only a few years ago we were told we’d soon be a ‘paperless’ society – but guess what? Correct - it never happened. In fact, we’re still using masses and masses of paper and still racking up those unnecessary printing costs.

If you don’t keep your eye on them, printing costs soon mount up, so we’ve put together some tips and advice which will enable you to cut printing costs and make your business more profitable – whilst also helping the environment.

A modern printer

There are still many people out there with printers so old, they’re like a member of the family. Maybe it’s time to get rid of it - that’s the printer, not the old member of your family - because old printers are nowhere near as efficient with ink or paper as the modern printers.

Print companies make very little, or no money on the sale of the printers, the bulk of their profits come from sales of the ink. There are many types of printer for all manner of jobs, so think about what you actually use it for, and buy the printer which is best at doing that particular job. And don’t go for the ‘all-singing-all-dancing’ model if all you want to do is print out a few standard letters.

If you’re buying a new printer, buy one that uses individual colour cartridges as these are much more cost effective. If you buy one that uses Tri-Colour cartridges, you’ll end up paying more for less. For example, if you print a lot of copies that use the blue colour, when it runs out, the remaining colours left in the cartridge cannot be used, so you’ve wasted money. Individual colour cartridges and be individually replaced when they run out, making them much more cost-effective.


There are basically two-types of printer: Inkjet printers and laser printers.


These are generally cheaper, smaller and are good for text and images. As you might guess, inkjet printers use ink. They also have a lifespan of around three years.


Laser printers are more expensive and use pricier toner cartridges but offer an overall lower cost per page, faster print speeds and typically involve a lower total cost of ownership. Laser printers have a lifespan of around five years.

Printer ink

Yes, printing ink tends to be expensive. However, there are a few reasons for this – bear with us.

Firstly, ink companies spend hundreds of millions on research and development of the ink itself. They say the ink must be formulated to withstand heating to 300 degrees, vaporization, and being squirted at 30 miles per hour, at a rate of 36,000 drops per second, through a nozzle one third the size of a human hair. And then it has to dry almost instantly. Sounds reasonable.

Cartridges also have microchips inside the cartridges and the print companies say that this is the only way to enforce an expiration date, preventing users from using old ink cartridges. So, that’s why the ink and cartridges are quite expensive. You also have to take into account that they are basically giving away the printers in the first place – some printers cost less than a set of colour ink cartridges.

When you buy ink cartridges, then it makes a lot of sense to buy the XL or HC (High Capacity) versions, as for a little more money, you get a lot more ink. And bear in mind that a toner cartridge will last much longer than an inkjet, so think carefully about this when you’re making your original printer purchase.

Ignore the first message

We’ve all experienced the dreaded message saying the ink level is too low. Just because the ink is at a low level, do not change it immediately, wait until it is genuinely empty. You’ll know when your prints are faded.

If you have a toner cartridge, you can remove it, give it a good shake (horizontally, back and forth) and then replace it. This distributes the toner powder and means you can usually print for quite a while longer before you need to replace it.

Don’t print in colour when you only need black and white. Obviously, colour takes longer to print and uses much more ink – so only print colour when really necessary.


Of course, if took a bold, dramatic step and went paperless, you wouldn’t have to spend any money on a printer or ink, so consider keeping digital copies of your documents instead of paper ones.

Buy online

You should always buy accessories online, as prices tend to be between 10 and 30% cheaper – even taking postage costs in to consideration, which is a big saving. And if you take advantage of multi-pack special offers which happen on a regular basis, then you’ll save a pretty penny. There’s nothing wrong with clever stockpiling as it saves money and helps the smooth running of your business.

Online retailers also tend to have more stock to choose from as they are less restricted with space. Ebuyer sell over 2000 ink and toner cartridges.

Cartridge care

It’s no good making the effort to buy cartridges at the right price and then not looking after them properly. Always store them in the shade at room temperature (or slightly cooler) and keep them upright and in their original packaging. The foil or aluminium bag protects the cartridges from evaporation and drying out prematurely.

Educate your staff

It’s true that people don’t have the same sense of responsibility when they are at work as opposed to at home, so you really do need to educate and encourage your staff to do the right thing. Have a meeting to discuss the issues, and hopefully they’ll be happy to make changes because everyone wins.

How to save money

Here are a few tips which will save you money. They’re simple to put in to practice, so introduce them right now and start saving yourself money.

Fill the page and more

Cut out all those large spaces on pages with text, minimise margins to waste less of the print area available and print on both sides of the paper.

The fonts have it

Different types of fonts use different amounts of ink. Inform staff they need to use a particular font. The Arial font uses the least amount of ink.


This magical button is largely under-used, as we have a misconception that paper and printing is cheap, so we just go ahead and press print. If you can educate your staff to press preview first, you can save lots of paper and ink.

How many times have you printed something out, then spotted an error, corrected it and then printed it out once again, and spotted another error? It can go on forever. Press preview, check the page thoroughly and you’ll only need to print it the once.

If you are printing out documents which are for internal use, put the printer in to ‘draft’ mode, as this automatically uses less ink.

Re-cycle and re-use

If you’ve printed anything in error or that is no longer needed, save the paper and use it for another purpose, such as for note-making, or just replace it into the printer and print on the unused side.

Paper problem

It’s tempting to buy cheaper paper, but cheaper paper tends to be rougher and leaves fibres inside your printer – which causes wear and tear. Buy paper that has a thickness of 80 grams. Thicker paper is more expensive, but much better quality. 100 grams is good quality and suitable for more important business documents.

Recycled paper

Save the environment by using paper that’s already been recycled. This can be cheaper than standard paper.

Cut printing costs

All the tips and advice we’ve given you are easy to put in to place and all help to save you money. It’s just a matter of forming good habits.

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