12 tricks to stretch your printer's ink

  • Article by: KATE FORGACH , Freeshipping.org
  • Updated: May 19, 2010 - 4:21 PM

The biggest expense isn't buying the unit -- it's the replacement cartridges.

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Learn to stretch your printer's ink.

That $25 printer you bought at a discount store might seem like a good deal until you go to buy a replacement cartridge. That's when you learn printers are cheap but printer ink is outrageous. Small adjustments can greatly cut down on ink costs and make for a greener printer. Try these 12 techniques to reduce your outlay on printer ink.

1. Change fonts.

Times New Roman and Arial tend to be the default fonts. Switch to a lighter font, such as Century Gothic, to reduce how much ink is required for each letter. Change your default font on Word by going to Format Font, select a font, and save as "default."

2. Use smaller font sizes.

Reduce the font size to 10 or less, but don't sacrifice legibility. If you can easily read the smaller font on your screen, you'll likely be able to read it on paper.

3. Use ecofont.

Ecofont (www.ecofont.com) reduces your ink usage by "shooting holes" into the font you're using. There's no loss of legibility or impact on your layout. With a few mouse clicks, you can choose familiar fonts such as Arial, Verdana and Calibri or an Eco variant of your house-style font (Enterprise Edition).

4. Use the draft setting.

Choose the "draft" or "econo" print setting in the "Advanced" settings of your print screen pop-up. The overall print will be lighter, so you might want to use the standard setting for important documents.

5. Buy refilled cartridges.

Refills cost less than buying new, particularly if you take advantage of ink refill sales at Staples or Walgreens. Cut your costs even further with Walgreens free shipping codes or Staples online coupons at sites such as Dealnews (www.dealnews.com).

6. Make your own refills.

Refilling cartridges is messy work until you get the hang of it, but the cost savings might be worth it. Look for refill kits at warehouse clubs or on eBay.

7. Recycle cartridges.

Sell empty cartridges to printer stores, on eBay or for credit at office-supply stores that give credit.

8. Run it until empty.

Continue printing on nearly empty cartridges until you've drained all the ink. On color printers, you can change the print color to one that still has ink in the cartridge.

9. Print at the copy shop.

Take a break from your desk and use an in-house or nearby print shop or copy center for major print jobs. The price per page is substantially less than printing on most standard printers.

10. Don't print.

Use the "Document Image Writer" or similar device to create electronic files rather than printing out a hard copy. Alternately, you can scan documents or use a program such as CutePDF (www.cutepdf.com) to create PDF files.

11. Print only what you need.

Print only the information you need by using PrintWhatYouLike (www.printwhat youlike.com) or software programs such as GreenPrint or EcoPrint2.

12. Upgrade your printer.

Before you buy, research the cost of replacement cartridges and whether the printer offers economical print settings. You'll often find replacing ink is cheaper on more expensive models. If you calculate the cost savings over a printer's projected life span, you'll probably find that the original cash outlay is worth it.

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