How many pages will I print from my Ink Jet Cartridge?

Page yield for ink jet cartridges

Page Yields Explained

This is a question we get all the time at Ink & Toner Solutions. It’s very frustrating for the consumer to buy an ink cartridge  and not have any information as to what they are getting in terms of how long or how many prints they can expect to get from it. That is exactly what has been going on in the ink jet cartridge industry.

When you go to the office supply store to buy your ink jet cartridge you will notice there is no information whats so ever on the box itself stating how many pages you can expect to get from that cartridge. Sure you can go on line to research your cartridge and sometimes you will actually see a page yield stated. But really, don’t you think this is the kind of information that should be plainly spelled out on the box, of course it is.

HP page yieldWhen your looking for a new printer wouldn’t it be nice if the information about how many pages you are going to get from the cartridges that come with the printer is printed in plain site. In this way a customer could make an intelligent decision as to what printer model will best suit his or her needs. On the rare occasion that you do find the page yield it is very misleading. Let’s say the stated page yield is 600 pages, what this means is you can expect to print 600 pages with 5% coverage. Let me explain what that means.

Lexmark page yieldsLet’s say you print a short letter with a header, one paragraph and the signature section, that may take about 5% of the page. This is what the manufactures are basing the Page Yield on. Problem is most people don’t know this so when they read somewhere that they should get 600 pages from an ink cartridge and go home or their office and start printing pages that cover 25%, 50% or 75% of the page all of a sudden they are getting 1/2 or less of the advertised pages from the cartridge. Of course their first reaction is that they just got burnt or in the case of remanufactured cartridges such as Ink & Toner Solutions deals with, they jump to the conclusion that “refilled” cartridges don’t work as well as the originals. When an ink jet or toner cartridge is remanufactured to high quality standards it will get the same page yield as the original but the consumer needs to know what that is and what it means.

Even though New Jersey passed legislation that requires manufactures of ink jet cartridges to display estimated number of prints each cartridge should get they fell short in that they did not include in the legislation that they should also add that page yield is based on the 5% coverage standard. The manufactures should also have readily available on line or in the stores examples of what this means. If a prospective buyer only prints short notes or letters than the system works. But what about a customer that prints a lot and completely fills each page with text or graphics, this system makes no sense at all. We need the manufactures to step up and fix this lack of concern for the very people that are buying their product. Imagine any other industry not stating on the label what you are getting and how much you can expect to get out of it. How about the paint industry, right on the label it states how many square feet the amount of paint you are buying will cover, just common sense.

Different examples of wha 5% looks like in different fonts

What 5% can look like

Even the 5% standard is a dodgy one, as different fonts can yield more or less page coverage per word.  The picture above shows a few examples of what 5% looks like, but each one uses a different font.  For PC users who want to get the most printing out of their cartridges we suggest the font Calibri (available with most versions of Windows from Vista and later as well as most modern versions of Microsoft Office)as it is narrower and uses less ink per character.

Canon page yieldsAt Ink & Toner Solutions we have printed examples of what the different page coverage’s look like (see the “More Resources” section at the bottom of the post for examples). When a customer ask us what is the page yield we can explain to them what this means so there are no surprises. At least now when they print they know why they are only getting 300 pages instead of the stated 600 pages, why would the major manufactures not give out this information? Could it be that they don’t want the consumer to know this critical piece of information? Because they make so much money on the sale of ink after you have purchased the printer, this kind of info would likely hurt them. As New Jersey State Assemblyman Paul Moriaty said, “Printer ink could possible be more expensive than Dom Perignon Champagne or the most expensive Paris perfumes because you get less than an ounce of printer ink in those cartridges and yet sometimes you’re paying $50 for less than an ounce.”

Think about this next time you are looking to buy a new printer, ask the questions, how much is the ink cartridge for this machine and how many pages can I expect to get from each cartridge. One way to save on the cost of ink is to look into high quality remanufactured cartridge. Buy from a reputable business that backs up what they sell and carry’s a 100% guarantee on their products and you will get good quality that matches the original product with great savings. But where ever you buy your cartridges from make sure to remember the 5% coverage and what it really means.



Print examples:



6 thoughts on “How many pages will I print from my Ink Jet Cartridge?

  1. I bought the NEW XL 932 black cartridge from COSTCO. After 150 pages on DRAFT print setting my cartridge indicate "NEEDING REPLACEMENT" This is unacceptable and very misleading since the manufacture statements say up to 1000 pages.

  2. Even at 5%, their quoted page yield is very misleading. I purchased an HP 564 XL cartridge. The “XL” is supposed to last twice as long and yield “up to” 550 pages. I meticulously recorded every page printed even if it only contained as little as one line of text. My printing primarily consists of letters containing a paragraph or two of print, almost never a full page of text. After only 125 pages I was out of black ink. Worse, 50 of those pages were color brochures that used very little black ink. All told, my total yield, at 5% coverage, was maybe 80 pages, less than 15% of HP’s advertised yield. I would be thrilled to get even half what these con artists advertise as their yeild.

    • The 564 series (and many of HP’s tank type carts) also usually go through a priming cycle when the printer is powered on and at other times when the printer is programmed to, this uses ink also. As well as if you have to perform any cleaning cycles, those use a LOT of ink.

      But thank you so much for your post, it’s rare to get actual user-tested results, and it’s easy to assume the big corporation is trying to get one over on us, it’s not everyday someone sets out to prove it. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for the useful information. I print out a lot of paperwork for my merchandising job. Although they do give us a small amount to cover the cost I don’t think it is enough. I thought I would count the number of pages for my latest cartridge I used. I was shocked. Although I could be off by a little, it only printed out 88 pages. That amounts to anywhere from .12- .16 cents/ sheet. Even if I was off by 30 pages that is still awful. It is an HP printer and I am buying a cartridge almost every 2-3 weeks. It might be better to look into buying a different printer. This is ridiculous. I use to be able to refill my own cartridges but I don’t think you can do that anymore.

  4. Hey, this was great, thanks for taking the time to write it. We have been working on the high cost of printing in the office and this was very useful.

    • Ink is more expensive than gold per ounce, so obviously the high cost of printing is something we hear about everyday from our customers. Good to know we aren’t the only ones who want to try to help. Thanks!

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