Monthly Archives: September 2016

Printing Pro Tips: how to troubleshoot your printer problems



Printers can be maddening at times. There you are printing a much needed report when all of a sudden the printer just quits. You restart, check the toner, try to slap it on the sides, but nothing is doing. You take a deep breath and count to ten then start at it again. Before you head to the ink toner store to buy another cartridge, how can you tell what is wrong?

Problem: The lights do not show

Check the electrical cables and confirm that the printer is getting power from the mains.

Problem: The printed text is too faint or streaky

If you are sure that the cartridge is not empty but the printing is still too faint or streaky, the print could be blocked by dried up ink. Wet a paper towel with bottled water and wipe the print head. After wiping the printing head, use a moist paper to prime the print head.

Problem: Cartridge not recognized

When electric current cannot flow across the cartridge’s contacts the printer may bring up this error or print gibberish. This can be solved by scraping the coating of ink dust or oxidized copper on the contact strip. Use an eraser to do it. You can also use alcohol to clean the strip but be careful not to touch the print head with the alcohol.

Problem: The printer is too slow and does not print at times

The network connection speed is the first suspect in this case if the printed pages are coming out okay. If you are printing over Wi-Fi the distance could be the problem as WiFi speeds can decrease over distance. Try switching to a wired connection. Wireless printing should be done over 802.11n wireless frequency which is as fast as wired connection. Network malfunction can also take the printer offline in which case it will not get the assigned jobs. Ask the network admin to have a look.

Problem: The printer says the cartridge is empty

If the printer says the cartridge is empty while it is not, the electric strip contact is the suspect again. Try cleaning the strip with an eraser or alcohol. You can also remove the cartridge and reset it.

Problem: The printing looks awful

Ink toner recycling could be the source of your problems in this situation. This is notorious with newer printers. Try switching back to the original manufacturer recommended toners. Third party toners can get notoriously wasteful, releasing too much or too little ink.

Printing Paper to Save Ink



Printing costs can quickly rack up even in medium sized offices.  Much of printing costs can be saved by sensible use of the print function. Paper is wasted as people print to test, print to keep copies, print stuff off the internet and so on. You can save on those trips to the ink toner store and the stationers by implementing some easy to follow guidelines on printing.

No printing Emails

In these days of limitless cloud storage, anyone printing emails should be surcharged for ignorance. Printing emails to keep a copy is rampant especially in large organizations where people feel the need to keep evidence of communication. This should be discouraged at any cost. Anyone who needs to save a copy can do it on the disk.

Know paper quality

Ink comes out differently on different qualities of paper. If you are printing on recycled paper for a client marketing pitch, the client will not be too pleased with your efforts. However, if you do it on laser or inkjet paper, the results are great. This could prompt you to be printing on this paper all time, at great damage to your pocket. Know what kind of paper to use commonly and what to use on special occasion. Photocopy paper is the best for common printing.

Printer service

Just like any other machine with moving parts, your printer needs looking into regularly. Printers using toners can accumulate toner dust which leads to paper jams and smudged printing. Blow away dust, clean print heads and electric contacts. This will make your printer more efficient, saving on paper and ink.

Tweak documents

Margins too wide, big font, double spacing, and badly done paragraphing all contribute to using more paper than necessary.  Teach everyone around the office the basics of efficient document production. Print on both sides to halve the paper needed.

Ensure ink is really empty

Some printers are notorious for showing empty toner messages when the toner gets to 25%. Ensure that the toner/cartridge is really empty before throwing it away.

Go green

Recycling is a great way to save on costs. Use recycled paper for printing bulk documents for internal consumption like reports. Save more with ink toner recycling.  Toner manufacturers have come around this need from customers and companies like HP have refillable toners. Use it on the printer that does most of the mundane printing.

Go paperless

This is the best way to save on both paper and ink. Printing to PDF is a better alternative to hard copy with the added advantage that your documents are more easily shareable.

Printing Myths: Exposed! Common misconceptions about printing



The older generation in the office will most likely prefer hard copy prints over those fancy PDFs. This means that printing is still going strong for many organizations. As much as it has been vilified for contributing to the earth’s woes, printing is still necessary and will be here for a long time. In fact, most offices rarely notice the printer until it stops printing. Then it’s a hectic visit to the ink toner store, a call to the IT guys or the electrician. There are many myths that are bandied around without much to support them;

Myth: Third-party cartridges are cheaper

Different manufacturers deploy different technology in their printers. The truth is that third party cartridges work erratically most of the time. Printers refuse to recognise them, they release too much or too little ink, the printer quits unexpectedly amid many other printer headaches. In the end you are better off with the cartridge that the printer maker has recommended. You will be saved many calls to the IT guys.

Myth: Printing is damaging the environment

Greenpeace and other green activists will tell you that precious trees are being cut to make more and more printing paper. The truth is that most printing paper these days is recycled. Better recycling technology has enabled production of high quality printing paper.  In fact, it is hard to tell recycled from original paper with an untrained eye.

Ink toner recycling is also a way to save on making more cartridges. Printer manufacturers have realized that they can make money from this model as recyclable toners are in high demand. Using recycled toner does its bit in conserving the environment.

Myth: Going completely paperless

Much has been said on the need for offices to go paperless. The truth is office culture will not allow it. Contracts have to be signed on hard copy; marketing material has to be made and so on. Ingrained habits will also make kicking out hard copy a bit difficult. There is a generation that will always prefer to the screen. Going completely paperless is a myth that would be better replaced on the need to save on paper and ink.

Myth: Cartridge is the most affordable

Studies comparing cartridge and ink bottle costs showed that you can save as much as $750 by using a refillable ink bottle. Some people will justify this by trying to recycle ink cartridge. These will cost lower but most likely damage the printer. Ink toner recycling is a better and cheaper option.


Ink Friendly/Saving Fonts



The efficiency in use of printing ink could make a big change in printing costs. One of the best ways to save on your trips to the ink toner store is by good document production. This means looking for the best font, margins, spacing and so on. The type and size of font can impact on ink usage, as shown in a non-scientific study by Suvir Mirchandani from Pittsburgh. He claimed that the government can save $400 million in printing costs by using Garamond font. Typographers claim while this may not be necessarily true, font does indeed affect ink usage.


Fonts can be the same size (point) but have different thickness. For instance Times New Roman point 11 will be thinner than Broadway point 11. Thin, condensed and narrow fonts are more economical than other fonts of same size. Fonts that are non-serif are also more economical than serif fonts as there are no flourishes to add to the ink needed.

When combined with other cost-cutting measures like ink toner recycling, eco fonts can save good money. Some good examples of eco-fonts are;

Century Gothic

This simple font from way back is designed for readability. The thin letters make ink usage minimal. The only downside is that it is a bit wide and could negate its advantages if used in bulk printing. It is ideal for printing few pages.


This retro looking font was designed for usage on typewriters with ink usage in mind. The good thing with Courier is that it is thin but wide which improves readability without increasing font.


As mentioned above, several typographers have claimed this font is the most economical in ink usage. The font is narrow and thin meaning more words will fit on a page compared to other fonts. The downside is that without good spacing between the lines it can appear too squeezed.

Brush script

This font is appropriate for decorative writing, headlines, and logos. You would expect the curves and curlicues to use more ink than say Times New Roman.  Surprisingly, it is more economical. The downside is that you cannot use it for a whole document which makes its economy unnoticeable.

Ryman Eco

The designers of this font claim it uses 33% ink than standard fonts like Courier. This has been achieved by making the font hollow. The hollows cannot be seen in standard sizes 8 -11, but are more apparent when the font is enlarged say point 24.


This font is designed with holes in the letters. These holes are not visible in standard size just like with Ryman Eco. It also comes with special software. When used together, the designers claim it can save 50% more than standard fonts.