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Ink & Paper: Tips for Saving On Printer Resources

January 19, 2016

Printing ink and paper are expensive — and a business cost that is especially hard to swallow when much of it ends up in the recycling bin. If you're tired of throwing money away (or recycling it, anyway), know that there are ways to cut down on consumption, and save your office money.

Ways to save on ink:

1. Tone down the font. A simple but effective trick. By reducing your font size, and not overusing bold or underline text, you’ll save quite a bit of ink in the long run.

2. Print only what you need. You can specify pages to print, print ‘word only’ so that you don't waste ink on graphics, or even just copy and paste portions of a document into a separate blank document if you don't need whole pages. Better yet, set up a workflow system that allows users to edit and share documents electronically, so you don’t have to print out a copy of a document each time it’s shared or edited.

3. Cut the waste when printing from the Web. With all of the white space, ads, and other extraneous text, printing from the Internet can be a serious ink and paper hog. There are a number of free downloads and web tools out there that can help. One is PrintWhatYouLike.com, which helps you print only what you need from websites by allowing you to remove items and eliminate spacing. Another option is GreenPrint, free software that identifies waste in print jobs. GreenPrint gives you the option to print to a PDF, which you can save to your desktop.

4. Change your printer settings. Office printers come with a variety of settings these days. Make sure your default print setting is ‘low quality’ or ‘fast draft black and white’ so that you're not sending simple text documents to your color printers.

5. Choose a better layout. Most inkjet printers can print double-sided or print multiple pages on a single sheet. If the document you’re printing is for internal use, be sure to make use of these features to conserve resources.

6. Always preview your documents before you hit print. This reduces duplicate printing and gives you the opportunity to save paper by changing the font size or fixing spacing issues.

7. Get the most out of your ink cartridge. Check to see if your printer has an ‘ink saver’ option. Also, be wary of ‘low ink’ warnings. They are often premature, and you can still get quite a few print jobs out of your cartridge before it’s dead. However, remember to use your ink and toner cartridges in a timely manner. You don't want to order extra cartridges only to have them become unusable: ink does have a shelf life, and old ink can damage your machine by clogging your nozzles or printing streaky documents.

8. Perform regular printer maintenance. Dust can hamper print quality, so try to remember to wipe the inside and outside with a dry lint-free cloth periodically. It’s also a good idea to run the print cleaning cycle on your MFP every few months.

9. Take care with printer selection. If you're in the market for a new printer, pay close attention to the machine's cost-per-page information. Cheaper printers might end up costing you more than the more expensive printers when you factor in ink or toner costs.

Ways to Save on Paper:

Paper is paper is paper, right? Not quite. Paper quality differs in a surprising number of ways, from brightness to opacity to weight to texture. And those subtle differences can make a big difference in cost.

So which type of paper should you use? It depends on the type of document. For those every day, text-only print jobs, photocopy paper is your best bet. It can also go by the following names: multipurpose, dual-purpose, copier, plain or Xerox paper. It's the cheapest option, and is a safe bet for most everyday printing needs.

For more important documents, laser or inkjet paper is the way to go. It's heavier and smoother, providing sharper and more vivid imaging. However, it's important to remember that laser and inkjet paper aren't interchangeable. Inkjet paper doesn't hold up in the high temperatures of laser printing, and laser-printer specific paper won't absorb the ink properly and can smear. Inkjet and laser paper is more expensive, so use it sparingly, like when you’re creating client-facing documents or marketing materials.

The paper industry has also seen a surge in ‘green’ or recycled paper. This type is great for everyday printing, but often won't produce high-quality, professional-looking documents as it’s thinner. For offices, it’s best to save it for everyday uses, though note that it is more expensive than basic photocopier paper.

Beyond picking the right type of paper and conserving ink, there are now technologies to help manage printing costs for offices. Pacific Office Automation's print track and control service eliminates unnecessary printing and limits printing to high-cost devices. We can also track printing activity by user, machine or even application to identify wasteful printing practices. Our award-winning service technicians can help with printer maintenance and other print quality issues.

Reducing ink and paper waste is good for your bottom line--and the environment. Contact us today, and find out how POA’s managed print services can help you significantly lower your printing costs.

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