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Getting More from Your Printer: Which Font is Most Efficient?

Huw Carrington of printer cartridge superstore, Stinkyink.com has been investigating what the manufacturers mean when they say their cartridges yield so many pages based on ‘5% coverage’.

ISO 19798:2007, isn’t a very catchy name and furthermore this British Standard is a rather misunderstood system used for the measuring of how much printing a toner cartridge will do before it’s empty. It works out the number of pages based on each sheet having 5% of its surface covered by printing.

When I asked around it seems that most people don’t understand how little this is. In fact, the majority think the promised 5% is  a full page of text, sometimes with the odd image thrown in., But I found that this is far from the truth. Even business-documents, like invoices, with open expanses of virgin white paper are usually considerably more than this standard.

So, what does 5% actually look like?

ISO has its own document for measuring it, with some text and a graph on it, but this is of limited use as it doesn’t look anything like a normal document you might print out.

Because of this, I did some research and found a rather nice program from AVPsoft that calculates the amount of ink or toner that will be used for printing a given document. Next I  set about doing some experimentation.

The end result was several dozen sheets of paper, each with a 5% coverage of text (‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy brown dog’ (and yes, I know, if I’d have used the present tense it would have had all the letters of the alphabet on it). Here’re two examples using common fonts.

Arial font - 10 pointtimes New Roman - 12 point

Using the Arial font in size 10, the 5% coverage takes up just over a third of an A4 page. Therefore a full page of text would be 10% - 15% and a cartridge quoted to yield 3,000 pages (at 5%) will only last for 1,000-1,500 pages.

If you prefer Times New Roman size 12, this uses slightly less ink as nearly half a page equates to the 5%. However, for a multi-page document, you will use more paper with TNR than if you type in Arial 10. So the choice is to use more paper or more ink.

An ink-efficient font

Some more detailed research showed that you can get a higher word count with some font types than others, and that decreasing the size of the font can again increase the word count you’ll get with a given amount of toner.

So if you want to get the most printing for your money, switch to Calibri. I found that you can get nearly half again as many words on a page with it as you can with other popular typefaces like Arial or Times New Roman.

Hopefully you’ll now have at least a more realistic idea of the life expectancy of your toners.


About the author:

Huw Carrington heads up the Sales and Customer Service Division at Stinkyink.com. He is the driving force behind Stinkyink's ISO 9001 status and a firm advocate of high quality management standards.

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