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What a 5% Coverage Page Looks Like in Printer Toner Cartridge

One of the important aspects to consider when choosing a printer or purchasing replacement ink cartridges is how much ink or toner the cartridges actually contain. The amount of ink or toner in a cartridge is often referred to as cartridge yield or page yield.

When you turn around and look at the cartridge yield, you can see how many pages the cartridge has enough to print. For example, an IBM 28P2008 toner cartridge has a nominal yield of 30,000 pages, while an HP C6657AN ink cartridge can print 400 pages. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the cartridges have a smaller capacity.

But the printed pages are different from each other. One time a to-do list was printed, the next a 10-page report.

For the purpose of measuring cartridge yield, almost all printer manufacturers base black ink/toner cartridge yields on a 5% coverage. This means that only 5% of the entire page is covered with ink or toner. 5% coverage means no bold type, no basic type of graphics and pictures.

CMYK toner for color laser printer and copier determines toner cartridge yield based on 20% to 35% coverage (5% to 7% for each color). In fact, if the document is 100% filled, the coverage is 400%. Page yields for tri-color inkjet/toner cartridges are based on 15% coverage (5% for each color).

Now put the last two paragraphs above on a letter-sized piece of paper. Congratulations! You’ve created a sample 5% coverage page:

sample 5% coverage page

Let me ask you, how often, if any, do you print pages like this? Who needs 400 or even 30,000 of these pages?

After filling the page, I managed to repeat these two paragraphs 6 times, which gave us 30% coverage. This looks more like a normal printed page:

30% coverage

I wonder why they don’t measure the ink/cartridge yield in 30% coverage pages to be more realistic. Obviously, given a certain amount of ink in the cartridge, this will mean fewer pages to print and present.

On the other hand, I’ll know how many pages I’m going to print with maximum ink usage, that is, I’ll be aware of the worst-case scenario. So if I don’t print as much text and graphics per page, I get more pages printed.

Wouldn’t that be a fairer, more realistic message for us customers? I believe it will.

Whatever the reason for using 5% coverage as the industry standard, now you know what it looks like and can approximate it for real-life print.

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