Printer Cartridge Economics -- Four Ways To Make Your Ink Last Longer

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Printer cartridge overheads can be a major expense for any busy office -- and even if you're working at home, it's important to factor in the amount you spend on your printer ink when assessing the cost of running a home-based business. And what you spent on that bargain-priced printer may turn out to be only a fraction of what you pay annually in printer supplies.

A family household may have several printers on the go, each requiring its own specialist cartridges. The kids are doing their homework, researching information online and printing off reference material before drafting and printing homework papers. Digital photography is great, but grandma doesn't have a computer (let alone an e-mail account!), so you're making high quality prints of your son's graduation ceremony to mail to her. And you have to proofread some important work documents by tomorrow -- and you know you can't check text accurately from the computer monitor, so ...

If you're anything like me, you can't imagine working without the support that a personal printer provides. But while the search for reliable but cheap printer ink never ends, there are some strategies you can adopt to economize on ink use and lower your budget for replacement cartridges.

  • Use draft print quality where you can. Go to File -- Print to open the box that lists the settings for your printer. Click 'Properties' to bring up the various options available. You'll probably find different choices under the heading 'Paper/Quality' that allow you to select draft quality printing. Your document will print at a lower resolution but that may not matter for reference material that you will likely discard later.
  • Choose black and white printing over color when possible. Depending on your printer, you may have the option to select grayscale printing using the black ink cartridge only. If you're not doing presentation quality work, chances are you won't need the other colors.
  • If you're dealing with a long document, print two sheets to a page if you can. Your printer may allow you to print two pages side by side in 'landscape' orientation -- and you'll save on paper costs too.
  • Modern personal printers can produce high quality photographs, particularly if you use specialist photo paper. But printing high quality digital shots can use a lot of ink -- so think about outsourcing your photo printing to a local print center. Many services allow you to order your prints online and can mail them to you if you can't collect them yourself. You can often have your photos printed on calendars, mouse mats or greeting cards, if you wish.
  • Reduce your inkjet or toner costs by economizing on ink when you can -- and keep your ink supplies ready for those occasions when high quality presentation counts.

    Nigel Patterson is a business writer and the publisher of

    His many articles provide useful tips and advice for online purchasers of inkjet cartridges and laser toner, as well as other printer supplies.

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